Journeymen Asheville and In Real Life launch the “Crafting Passages” pilot program, at UNCA’s brand new STEAM Lab Studio
Asheville, NC—Local mentorship and rites of passage nonprofit, Journeymen, is partnering with Asheville City School’s Foundation’s In Real Life to launch a pilot afterschool program called “Crafting Passages”—a venture that combines group-mentoring with building skills development.
Crafting Passages connects boys ages 12-14 from Asheville Middle School with Journeymen mentors, where together over the course of twelve weeks, they are exploring their hopes, dreams, fears and aspirations through weekly mentoring circles while also engaging in an ongoing canoe-building workshop at UNCA’s brand new STEAM Lab Studio at 821 Riverside Drive.
The program’s goal is to provide a reliable and safe space for adolescent boys to share about issues and challenges they are facing in their lives while also providing them access to self-expression, creativity and career aptitude through woodworking, crafting and building skills.
“Crafting Passages offers opportunities for adolescent boys to develop both emotional intelligence, technical skill and success through collaboration” says Jordan Foltz, Journeymen’s Program Director, “It’s about creating a safe space that invites self-discovery and also a provides a chance for these boys to develop creative skills that will serve them for their entire lives,” he says.
For Brent Skidmore, a Journeymen board member, mentor and Co-Collaborative Founder of STEAM Lab, Crafting Passages is helping fulfill STEAM’s goal of creating a larger and more diverse voice within the fields of sculpture and engineering, while also giving the students access to a deeper understanding of what they are capable of.
“Many of these boys have never had the opportunity for this kind of project-based crafting. So when they are offered a time and place and men to stand next to them while they have integrated experiences with their hands and minds—it empowers them in a very special way,” says Skidmore, “Over and over again I hear them comment about the abilities that they didn’t know they had—and it leaves them to see and understand themselves differently.”
By working alongside, and receiving support from UNCA students at STEAM Lab, Skidmore hopes that Crafting Passages students will better be able to envision themselves in college one day and start to build path for themselves that leads to higher education.
By May, the group hopes to have built five canoes, and at the semester’s end, they will celebrate their accomplishment with a weekend paddling trip to Bear Creek Lake.
As for future semesters, The Crafting Passages pilot program is designed to be regenerative: in the summer the canoes will be auctioned at a celebration and fundraiser to support the materials budget for the fall semester.