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Empowering High School Girls with Welding

Posted at: 03/14/2013 10:18 PM
Updated at: 03/14/2013 10:43 PM
By: Maarja Anderson
manderson@wdio.com

While the students of Wisconsin's Indianhead Technical College are on Spring Break, some high school girls are taking over their welding shop.

The high school students are from Denfeld High and are in the "Girls Restorative Program," which is ultimately part of "Men as Peacekeepers." The after-school program is about building resiliency and fostering community among young women.

As part of their program, the girls are learning the basics of welding at WITC in Superior. Holding a torch to steel isn't something any of the girls thought they'd ever do.

"At first I didn't want to do it because I thought it was too boyish," said Donisha, a sophomore at Denfeld High.

But after learning the basics, the girls said they loved the process of getting their hands dirty.

"We're strong!" said Cynthia, also a sophomore at Denfeld High.

The "Girls Restorative Program" aims to empower young women. Elena Bantle, the program's coordinator, said working with fire and cutting apart steel is the ultimate form of female empowerment.

Bantle added that welding opens the high school girls' eyes to a field many people consider a male-dominated skill.

"In a tangible way, you can make a lot of money welding," said Bantle.

The girls all created their own designs of what it means to be a woman.

"I chose Lady Liberty because I think she is a person for girls to stand up for," said Donisha.

They will then cut out their designs and weld all of their pieces together to make a large piece of artwork.

No matter the end product, Bantle said there is just one goal.

"I hope they can themselves as strong women who can do anything," said Bantle.