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        Page 6                                                                                                 Electronic Edition:

        Minneapolis Youth Mentor Charles Walker Fosters Friendships, Community Pride

        Through Construction Internships

                                                                                dents make along the way that really makes   Mentorship Matters
                                                                                the program a success,” said Walker. “Those
                                                                                students from my first year with the program   Walker  values  the  respect  that  his  stu-
                                                                                forged  a  strong  bond  together  that  summer,   dents  have  for  him  and  does  not  take  that
                                                                                and many of them are still friends to this day.”  responsibility lightly. The educator is commit-
                                                                                   With students’ sense of purpose and com-  ted to showing up for any student who needs
                                                                                munity bonds growing increasingly unsteady   guidance,  no  matter  how  long  it  has  been
                                                                                under the weight of two years of a global pan-  since  their  time  with  the  Minnesota  Trades
                                                                                demic,  to  say Walker’s  continued  success  in   Academy.
                                                                                this sector is anything short of a miracle would   “If  any  of  these  kids  get  in  trouble,  I
                                                                                be an understatement.              am often the first person that they call, even
                                                                                                                   if it’s years after they have taken part in the
                                                                                Service-Oriented Program Builds    program,” said Walker. “I do a lot of work in
                                                                                Students’ Sense of Purpose         this community with youth, so they trust me
                                                                                                                   to help them navigate difficult situations and
                                                                                   Walker  draws  upon  his  well-earned   help them resolve whatever issues they have.”
                                                                                foundation of respect to inform the work that   Two MTA alumni whom Walker mentors
                                                                                interns  perform  in  service  of  their  commu-  to this day are DeShawn Davis, whom Walker
                                                                                nity during their time in the program. Walker   first met when Davis ran on the 7th grade track
                                                                                recalled  one  recent  project  where  students   team that Walker coached, and who took part
                                                                                built a handicap ramp for a woman living in   in  MTA  three  years  ago;  and  Josiah  Sutton,
                                                                                south Minneapolis.                 who completed the MTA program four years
                                                                                   “The handicap ramp project was probably   ago.
                                                                                my favorite project that the kids completed,”   Davis and Sutton both entered a career in
                                                                                said Walker. “That project marked a big step   construction after their time with the program.
                                                                                for a lot of the students because they just loved   Davis recently began an apprenticeship with a
                                                                                working  on  that  project.  When  it  was  com-  construction company that is renovating Hen-
                                                                                pleted, they were very happy with what they   nepin Avenue in Minneapolis, while Sutton is
            Amid  the  questioning  of  purpose  and   The  pair  had  previously  coached  track   did for her, and so proud.”  reaching  the  end  of  his  bricklaying  appren-
        attempts  to  find  community  that  are  charac-  and  field  together  at  North  High  School  in   During a different project, in which stu-  ticeship and will soon graduate to become a
        teristic of adolescence, there comes a point in   Minneapolis and had bonded over their shared   dents  rebuilt  a  deck  for  an  elderly  woman   journeyworker.
        nearly everyone’s adolescence when you need   passion for, “getting kids set on the right path,”   living  in  Minneapolis,  Walker  realized  that   Educators seeking guidance in informing
        somebody to look you in the eye, and tell you   according to Walker.    one  of  the  student  interns  lived  only  two   their students about a career in construction or
        that the work that you do, and the person who   So,  when  Ebute  informed  Walker  of   blocks away from the project site.  hoping to pass along the opportunity to join
        you will become– matters.           the  Minnesota  Trades  Academy’s  need  for   “I was recently in touch with that student,   the Minnesota Trades Academy, can visit the
            For  many Twin  Cities  area  high  school   mentors  to  oversee  their  summer  program-  and  he  told  me  that  he  walks  by  that  house   Resources for Teachers page on the Construc-
        students, Charles Walker is that person.  ming, Walker knew it would be a perfect fit   every day. He spoke about how proud it makes website.
            Walker  is  a  Minnesota  educator,  Min-  for his skill set. He began mentoring with the   him to see that the work he did on that house
        neapolis  Parks  and  Recreation  organizer   program and hasn’t looked back since, return-  had  such  a  profound  impact  on  his  neigh-  Reprinted with permission from Construction-
        and  youth  mentor  for  the  Minnesota  Trades   ing every summer since he first began his role.  bor,” added Walker. “It is in this way that the
        Academy, a paid summer construction intern-                             program  has  had  such  a  positive  impact  on
        ship experience for high school youth with the   Finding Meaning Alongside Peers  how these students view and respect the world
        goal of preparing youth for adulthood through   For  Walker,  the  value  of  the  Minnesota   around them.”
        skill  development,  and  access  to  good  jobs   Trades Academy extends beyond career prep-
        with good benefits in the construction industry.  aration.  The  educator  has  found  incredible
            “My  experience  volunteering  with  the   success using his influence as a mentor to foster
        Minnesota  Trades  Academy  has  been  over-  strong,  life-long  friendships  between  the  pro-
        whelmingly positive,” said Walker. “A lot of   gram’s interns– who, Walker notes, often come
        these kids are looking for summer jobs, and   from  very  different  backgrounds–  and  instill
        some  can’t  get  one  because  of  their  age  or   in  his  students,  strong  values  of  community
        because  they  don’t  have  access  to  transpor-  engagement and service, respect for one’s peers
        tation. The Minnesota Trades Academy is an   and one’s community, and pride in oneself.
        important program, because it eliminates these   “I  teach  every  kid  that  I  encounter  that
        obstacles for students, allowing them the equal   we are not going to disrespect one another. If
        opportunity  to  get  paid  to  learn  a  trade  that   you have a problem with that you are in the
        they may want to go into one day, regardless   wrong place,” said Walker. “In my first year
        of their background.”               with the program, I had one group of students
            Walker’s  experience  with  MTA  began   who were all gangbangers — But I teach every
        seven  years  ago  through  a  connection  with   student that we are all one when we enter this
        Sam Ebute, Trades Navigator for the Construc-  program. I make it known that it’s not about
        tion Careers Foundation, a Twin Cities- based   where  they  come  from,  it’s  where  they  are
        nonprofit  organization  with  the  mission  to,   going, and we are all headed down the same
        “increase the diversity of entrants into the con-  path when we are with MTA. Once that respect
        struction trades and to enhance young people’s   is there, everything else falls into place.”
        access  to  construction-related  employment   “Besides  gaining  experience  using
        opportunities.”                     tools, it is the friendship and bonds that stu-
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