From left: Students Shawn Woolward, Michael Dirner, Tyrese Okongo, Farhan Mohammed, (instructor) Mike Friesen, Tevin Rauner, Rahim Halid and Tasha Wiens. (Submitted photo)

VIDEO: Surrey trades program donating dog houses to SPCA

Continuing Education Trades Discovery students, based out of Queen Elizabeth Secondary, built the dog houses from scratch

Life is going to be a little less rough for some lucky dogs at the SPCA, thanks to some Surrey trades students.

A group of students in the Continuing Education’s Trades Discovery program, based at Queen Elizabeth Secondary, are donating three dog houses they’ve built from scratch this semester.

The donation has a personal meaning for one of this year’s students, Farhan Mohammed.

“I got my cats when I was about four years old from the SPCA,” she said while working in the shop at the evening program, as machinery buzzed in the background.

“So when I heard that’s where we were donating it to, I got such an important part of my life from the SPCA, so it’s so amazing that I could donate back to that and help someone else get another piece of their life,” she smiled.

“These dogs are going to go into loving homes and for the time being they’ll get to enjoy the dog houses we built for them. It’s really cool.”

But it’s not just the animals who are reaping the benefits of the program.

For some students, like Mohammed, it’s helping them learn what path they want to take in life by getting a taste of various trades before committing to one.

The weeknight program, open to those in secondary school as well as adults working toward graduation completion, involves construction, plumbing, electrical and automotive training.

Mohammed, who had plans to become an architect, said the program may have influenced her to choose a different career.

“Honestly just being here, I’m asking, do I really want to be an architect anymore?” she wondered. “I might like something more hands-on, I could see myself doing something like this in the future.”

“For me it’s mostly just a lot of really basic skills everyone should know and they don’t. I’m thinking, ‘I’m going to save so much money when I’m older,’” Mohammed laughed.

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(Trades Discovery students Farhan Mohammed (left) and Michael Dirner during an evening class at Queen Elizabeth Secondary. Photo: Amy Reid)

Doug Litke, principal of Queen Elizabeth Continuing Education, said the program is all about “learning skills, and it’s hands-on.”

Litke noted quite often, close to a third of the students in the program are female. “That’s what we’re finding now,” he elaborated. “We want to encourage it but we don’t necessarily need to encourage it,” as it’s happening organically.

In the program, students learn everything from how to frame doors to how to wire up light switches and circuit breakers. They also learn to work off of a drawing, from scratch.

“They have to be able to then take the drawing and put that into reality,” Litke explained. “So taking your measurements, what does that look like, which is anything they may have to do when they go out to a job site if they decide to get a job, even starting off as a labourer.”

Instructor Mike Friesen said these are great life skills for the students to have, regardless of whether they choose to enter a trade, or not.

“I teach them the proper ways of construction so lining the studs up on centre, framing out a window, framing out a door, even if they have to do a little bit of work at home or helping somebody out or on a job site to be a labour worker, we give them a little bit of the skills in order to understand, if a trades person is saying certain terms, so that they understand that,” said Friesen. “It’s all part of trade discovery.”

The dog houses were built on that premise, he explained.

“With theory mixed into it, it took about eight weeks,” Friesen noted. “Within those eight weeks, the students only come Mondays and Wednesdays from 5 p.m. till 8 p.m., so it takes a little bit of time.”

It was Friesen who came up with the idea to donate three of the five dog houses that were created.

“It was actually my girlfriend’s mom,” he said with a laugh. “We were just thinking about selling the dog houses, recoup a bit of the cost, and she said what about donating them to a good cause? What about the SPCA? I thought, ‘That’s a great idea,’” he recalled.

It’s a sentiment he hopes will continue with the program.

“One-hundred per cent,” said Friesen. “After doing it this year and coming up with the idea, reaching out to different people, maybe once it gets out there, I’m hoping we have some sort of community connection where maybe somebody is asking for a garage or a shed, or maybe more dog houses, and people have different ideas.

“We can work off of different blue prints, and I can teach more,” he added.

“This is my first year doing it, I want to elaborate it a bit more. I want it to be more than just hammering wood together.”

In all, the class made five dog houses and the other two are being kept for an open house, to show potential students, and to perhaps sell, to help recoup some costs to put back into the program.



amy.reid@surreynowleader.com

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