A student cuts a piece of wood for a wall frame.

Students work together to build a wall frame during the course.

The course took place over a period of six months.

CAY HILL--Sixteen local youth last week successfully completed a six-month carpentry course made possible by K1 Britannia Foundation in collaboration with National Institute for Professional Advancement (NIPA). The course allowed the students to be internationally certified with Carpentry Level 1 qualifications through MIC Institute of Technology based in Trinidad and Tobago.

The course was an initiative of K1’s Second Chance programme. “Our Second Chance Programme is based on the principle of finding out-of-the-box solutions to adapt to meet the needs of our youth as effectively as possible. This is why we wanted to focus on construction and other industries that were relevant in the economic environment following Hurricane Irma,” stated K1 co-founder Priya Thirumur on Sunday.

The course attracted young persons ranging from 17 to 27 years, both women and men, including a person with special needs who was willing to develop technical and non-technical skills within the construction field.

MIC Institute of Technology Programme Manager Deshaun David elaborated on the importance of the youth skills: “Skills training is part of a holistic development, complemented by life skills and mentorship by our experienced instructors, which helps with the overall and long-term development of a young person. One must not forget that skills like carpentry open doors to young people, whereby it sparks entrepreneurial options and not just having to rely on employment from others.”

The six-month course began earlier this year and the students learnt various skills such as how to draw and interpret simple drawings, laying out a building on a job site, constructing formwork, frame floor and walls. Life skills was an integral part of the course and covered topics such as intra- and interpersonal skills, employment and financial skills, and entrepreneurship.

K1 Second Chance Programme Managers Malaika Richards and Alan Schet played the role of mentors throughout the duration of the course. Richards and Schet said, “We, as programme managers, expected a lot from the students and encouraged them to practice discipline, patience, and perseverance. This is important because even if some do not pursue carpentry as a career those characteristics are a large part of self-development and can be applied to any field.”

On successful completion of the course, a graduation ceremony took place to acknowledge the students’ accomplishments. The ceremony gathered friends, family and facilitators of the students and programme, and highlighted key students such as Edwin Schoop as Valedictorian, Stacy Elias as Best Team Player, Xhenji Wyatt-Cedeño as Emerging Leader, Raekwon Dollison as Most Disciplined, Vern David Graham with Best Attitude, Shenauri Carty as Most Determined, and Isaiah Nadal as Most Improved.

K1 thanked NIPA and Shieka’s Bistro which helped to make the graduation a success last week.

Carty shared her experience with the course: “If I did not participate in this course, I really did not have a plan B. The course is a steppingstone into my future. There are a lot of young persons with potential, but do not have the means to put themselves out there; but courses like this would give them that opportunity. I am grateful to K1 and Holland America Line for recognising that we needed these possibilities.”

Thirumur added, “We are thankful for those who have benefited and whose lives have been changed for the better through being a part of this pilot programme, and we are grateful for those who gave them this opportunity while also establishing the basis for training programmes like this for future.”

The carpentry course would not have been possible without its main sponsors Holland America Line (HAL) and the Dutch Disaster Fund. Other sponsors included Menzies Aviation, Rebuild SXM which donated boots, and ACE Hardware which donated safety equipment needed for the students.

HAL Corporate Giving Manager Pamela Bade said on Sunday, “HAL’s partnership with K1 Britannia is all about creating jobs for the youth of St. Maarten. We hope students walk away from this course with increased self-confidence, knowing the construction and life skills gained through this opportunity can open doors to their future.”

Next steps for K1 include assisting students with job prospects and transitioning into the work field.

For more information about K1 Britannia Foundation and its Second Chance Programme visit the websites

www.k1britanniafoundation.org,

www.facebook.com/k1sxm, send an email to

[email protected] or call +(1)721-543-3332.