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'Empowering them to do greater': Bibb County high school girls learn about construction

Campers are learning fundamental skills in carpentry, welding, plumbing and operating heavy machinery.

MACON, Ga. — Bibb County students are out for summer break, but some young ladies are continuing their education and getting experience with trade skills.

Senior Trinity Ford lights up her lamp creation as if it were magic.

"It was a new one because I never thought I would be building my own light bulb from scratch, so it was pretty fun today," Ford said.

Arlonda Mitchell is one of the other campers in the "Mentoring A Girl In Construction" (MAGIC) summer program where they're learning about trade skills.

"Teaching girls about the basics of construction like welding, electricity, carpentry, the different elements of construction, while also empowering them to do greater as girls," Mitchell said.

MAGIC camp director, Renee Conner, has worked with Bibb Schools for nine years -- aside from taking a break during the pandemic. She encourages young ladies to pursue trade careers.

"I'm a former member of the National Association of Women in Construction and with the Department of Labor statistics, women only make up 9% of the industry and we would like to change that," Conner said.

Each day of the week, the students work on a different project in each trade. From building birdhouses to wiring electrical circuits in lamps, they can apply these lessons in their every day life.

"The skills that they learn was just how to cut wood, how to use your tools properly. We teach them safety in everything. They come out with knowing just a little skill that they can use at home," Conner said.

Mitchell says along with the projects, they're also building a sisterhood.

"Everybody's together. Everyone's speaking with each other, laughing and playing and having a better experience than it would've been if no one was talking to each other, so it just made it very enjoyable meeting new friends," Mitchell said.

Conner brings in trade skill professionals to talk to the students about jobs.
The students will end the week with a job site visit at Georgia Power's Plant Scherer.

Conner says her program is funded by sponsorships and donations from trade skill companies. She plans to expand the program down to Florida next year.

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