Photojournalist for @Phillydotcom. #NextMayorPHL photographer. Hoosier. Lover of cheese, West Philly, #iubb and journalism.
Philadelphia Wooden Boat Factory
One non-profit attempts to teach at-risk youth how to succeed in high school and beyond.
For the summer, Yamir Adens, a rising high-school senior, who lives in a low-income Philadelphia neighborhood, uses nails and a hammer to build a boat.
Adens is putting his education to work. For $7.25 an hour.
He has been working at the Philadelphia Wooden Boat Factory for longer than anyone else — since 8th grade. He likes working with his hands and the
accomplishment of finishing a boat. He and several other students from similarly low-income Philadelphia neighborhoods are paid minimum wage to either take on an apprenticeship in boat building or learn science to teach the community about ecology and the environment.
The organization is keeping at-risk future generations engaged, learning and safe in spite of a severely underfunded public school system. The nonprofit serves many of the lower-income neighborhoods in the city by paying students ages 14–21 after school and during the summer to learn. Since the state budget has yet to be passed, the school district has yet to receive the $400 million expected from the state this school year.
The employees at Philadelphia Wooden Boat Factory attempt to engage with their students and prevent high school dropouts, raise their confidence levels and encourage positive social interactions.
“The end goal is much more than carpentry and science.” Theo Collins, the science director, said. “It’s about engaging the students, and teaching them confidence and life skills.”
Yamir Adens talks of the Wooden Boat Factory like it’s home. He’s been working so long he considers himself a mentor to newer students. He values the ability to learn math and science through the process of building a boat over learning in a classroom.
“This place is really special to me. I’ve been here a long time. This is pretty much my childhood right here.” Adens said.
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