On a windy 20-degree morning in November, NAF career academy students from Olympic High School in Charlotte, North Carolina walked onto an open field with hard hats and hammers to frame the interior walls of a house.
The students are part of a construction course designed in partnership with Habitat for Humanity Charlotte and Lowe’s Generation T, an initiative aimed at addressing the shortage of skilled trades workers while encouraging hands-on learning. At completion, high school students will have built a Habitat house, from preparing the subfloor, to framing walls and finishing the siding.
Roughly 300 students from different classes across two semesters will learn important skills that expand their career options and prepare them to enter a market in high demand of skilled trade workers. As a major bonus, they’ll also witness how piles of wood beams and buckets of nails can be transformed into a house and later a home for a family in need.
According to Michael Realon, Academy and Community Development Coordinator at Olympic High School, this is the ninth Habitat house built by students. He also says the program has doubled in size in the last year. The school now has two teachers leading the build and an increasing number of students who wish to participate. Some have even skipped their lunch break to work on the house.
On the wintry day of the framing, no one was worried about splinter-free hands or perfectly straight nails. All these students want is to see the smiles of the future owners of the home they’ve built.
Earlier this year, Lowe’s supported Habitat Charlotte’s first fully-developed street named Red Vest Way in honor of Lowe’s associates who help build safe, affordable housing year-round. All completed Habitat homes are sold to deserving families who have undergone Habitat Charlotte’s homeownership program, where they receive an affordable mortgage upon completion of required courses plus 300 hours of sweat equity.