WOODSTOCK – At New Brunswick Community College, students are learning much more than the skills needed to become employed in their chosen fields. They’re also learning the value of community service and giving back.
In the carpentry shop at the Woodstock campus, students are building simple structures that have the power to transform lives and communities.
“This is the kind of work you’ll be doing every day in your careers,” instructor Brad Scott tells his students. “You can use your skills to help people in many different ways.”
The Woodstock carpentry class is building mobility access ramps for businesses in downtown Woodstock as part of Service Day, a twice annual event held at all Campuses by NBCC’s Robertson Institute for Community Leadership. Built upon NBCC’s tradition of giving back to its campus communities, the Robertson Institute ensures that every NBCC student has the opportunity to develop important interpersonal skills like effective communication, teamwork and creative problem-solving through volunteer and service learning activities.
On Wednesday, Oct. 3, the carpentry students will deliver and install mobility ramps at five downtown Woodstock businesses, the result of a partnership with the Town of Woodstock. Deputy Mayor Amy Anderson says the need for the ramps only became clear after hearing from a community member with mobility challenges. While the businesses downtown are at street level, many of them have a small step up to the entrances, which prevents people with mobility challenges from entering.
“As a town councillor, I want people to be able to get out and support places in Woodstock,” says Anderson.
The ramp project will give the students insight on the importance of building with accessibility in mind, she adds.
“We now have one in five New Brunswickers with mobility challenges. You, as future carpenters, have the ability to make a permanent solution to this problem, by building for accessibility in the first place.”
For the students, participating in the ramp project has given them valuable work experience, with the added reward of helping others.
“It feels good to be able to go out and give to people who need it,” says student Anthony MacKenzie. “Every time I go by that store, I can look at that ramp and feel proud that I built that.”
Each ramp has been custom-designed for the specifics of the business entrance. Students visited the sites last week to take measurements and built the ramps in the carpentry shop at NBCC. On Service Day, they’ll complete the installation.
“They’ll probably take the ramps to the site, try them out, take a few final measurements, maybe bring them back here for a few tweaks,” says Scott. “That’s what carpenters do every day on the job.”
Each business participating in the ramp project contributed to the cost of materials. Walter’s Table, Goodine Law, Hatfield Leech Insurance, King Street Sports and Greco/Fashion Today are receiving ramps. Brennan’s Home Hardware also contributed to the material costs.
Service Day isn’t the end of the project, Scott says. Businesses that wish to have a ramp built at any time through the academic year can contact NBCC to find out how to partner with the carpentry class.
With over 90 programs and six campuses across New Brunswick, NBCC is a provincially recognized post-secondary institution renowned for producing skilled, knowledgeable college graduates. NBCC offers students full-time concentrated study periods in one- and two-year certificate and diploma programs. For more information, visit: www.nbcc.ca.