Woodcraft Applauds AAW Youth Turning Program and Local OutreachComments (0)
A young turner shapes a Christmas tree on the lathe as an American Association of Woodturners volunteer watches during a Youth Turning Workshop at the AAW Symposium in July. (Photo by Andi Wolfe)
Thirty-seven young people, ages 10 to 18, participated in the Youth Turning Program classes at the American Association of Woodturners Symposium held in Raleigh, North Carolina, in July. Wounded veterans, high school students and the visually impaired also shared instructional space as part of this program sponsored by Woodcraft and 11 other woodworking companies.
the AAW (American Association of Woodturners) launched the Youth Turning
Program 15 years ago, the goal was to interest young people in woodturning by
providing hands-on instruction. So far, 681 youth have participated at least
once. If you include students who have attended multiple times, the number
jumps to 824. There is no limit to the number of participants. Youth can
register to take part as long as they have an adult registered at the annual
few years ago, the Lighthouse for the Blind program founded by Andi Sullivan
was invited to use the workshop space and equipment so the visually impaired
could learn woodturning. This year two additional groups from the local
community were invited for turning instruction: 15 veterans from a Wounded
Warriors group and Cedar Ridge High School woodworking students.
is pleased to support the AAW Youth Turning program and the additional
opportunities for other groups to learn woodturning,” Vice President of Sales
and Marketing Beth Coffey said. “Woodcraft is committed to providing
educational options for woodworkers at all skill levels, so support for this
program fits that goal.”
26 face shields Woodcraft donated became part of the 15 tool packages given to
youth participants, 10 packages for the Educational Opportunity Grant (EOG)
recipients, and one provided to the Lighthouse for the Blind program
established in Raleigh in conjunction with the symposium.
Youth Turning Program
An AAW volunteer helps a young turner guide her woodturning tool to shape wood on the lathe. (Photo by Andi Wolfe)
This young woodturner concentrates on tool control as he shapes a project on the lathe, while an AAW volunteer observes. (Photo by Andi Wolfe)
The 37 youth participants, ranging in age from 10 to 18, could choose from a variety of small projects such as pens, key rings, a Christmas tree or ornament, a kaleidoscope, or a magic wand. Their creations were displayed in the AAW Instant Gallery, an open member show that features more than 1,000 wood-turned objects by woodturners attending the symposium.
of the young turners went home with complete turning packages consisting of a
mini lathe with stand, face shield, turning chuck, turning tools, and a safety
drive. Names of youth who participated in at least one turning rotation were
entered in a drawing for the packages.
of the tool packages this year are Evan Butcher, Katie
Douphrate, Casey Drees, Avery
Piotrowski, Jarrod Ray,
Jr., Chip Raynor, Liam
Strickland, and Lydia
Terdik. (Casey Drees won a lathe
but withdrew his name so his friend, Avery Gifford, who was an alternate, could
notes written by winners include this one from Evan Butcher:
Dear AAW and Sponsors,
Thank you for giving me and the other kids this opportunity to learn new things. Also thank you for putting the time and effort in the youth turning part of the symposium. Finally thank you very much for the opportunity to win a lathe and tools. It is greatly appreciated and will make lots of pens and snowmen and much more.
Ten Educational Opportunity Grants are available each year to selected applicants for woodturning education, and applicants need not be members of AAW. Youth Program Chair Larry Miller said this year seven grants went to individuals and clubs and the other three to schools. Each grant provides a lathe and tool package.
Instructors Include Former Youth
Participant & Blind Turner
Katie Stofel – Anticipating a Career in Woodturning
Katie Stofel, a former Youth Turning Program participant, switched roles in 2019 and was the instructor at two sessions. (Photo courtesy of Kara Stofel)
“I absolutely love working with the youth; there’s nothing like seeing their faces light up after finishing a project!” Katie Stofel said. The Columbia, Tennessee, resident taught the youth to turn a Christmas ornament stand and a coffee scoop at the 2019 AAW Symposium.
participated one year in the youth program; if I had known about it sooner I
would have been there,” Katie said.
grandfather was a hobbyist woodworker, and he introduced Katie and her twin
sister Kara to the craft. They needed a shop, but Katie said her grandfather
was so busy she doubted he would ever build one. Then one day she looked out
the kitchen window and saw a Frito-Lay 18-wheel truck come up the driveway and
park. Thanks to their grandfather, they now had an instant shop. Although her
sister finally opted to spend more time studying for school, 14-year-old Katie
was “loving every minute” of her time in the shop.
grandfather began to teach me how to make cutting boards and a baseball bat on
the lathe, and from there I was on my own,” Katie said. She began to watch YouTube
videos as her interest in woodturning grew.
19-year-old Katie is a student in marketing at the University of Tennessee. She
hopes to make woodturning her full-time career after graduation – and build an
actual shop! She already owns her own business, Frito Woodworking.
have been teaching kids and adults how to turn pens and coffee scoops for the
past two years now,” Katie shared. “I love watching beginners turn and showing
them some of the ins and outs of turning. This past November I took my JET mini
lathe to the UTC and let about a dozen students turn pens for Christmas presents.”
Her advice to young people interested in woodworking or woodturning: “Don’t be
afraid to reach out to other woodturners you see on Instagram or at symposiums;
they’re all here to help!”
Andi Sullivan – Another “First” & a New Challenge: Finding a Corporate Sponsor
Andi Sullivan, who is visually impaired, was one of the instructors for the Youth Turning Program classes at the 2019 AAW Symposium. (Photo by Andi Wolfe)
A panel discussion at the 2013 AAW Symposium led Andi Sullivan to found the Lighthouse for the Blind program in Tampa, Florida, where the symposium was held that year. That in turn led to Sullivan and the AAW partnering to establish Lighthouse for the Blind programs in each city that has hosted a symposium – Tampa, Phoenix, Pittsburgh, Atlanta, Kansas City, Missouri; Portland, Oregon; and now Raleigh, North Carolina.
is passionate about the Lighthouse program and anything that will help the
you have challenges or disabilities, the world becomes a lot smaller.
Woodturning opens it up. You come out with a pen or a key ring. It gives you
confidence. It empowers you. You think, ‘If I can do this, I do something else
She speaks from personal experience. In addition to a genetic condition called
cornea dystrophy, she has survived three strokes—the last one rendering her
blind—and lives with a heart condition and lupus. Told she would never walk
again, she went into the pool every day and did rehabilitation until she was
able to walk. In 2010, Andi discovered woodturning and that has changed her
learn more about Andi, read this Woodworking Adventures blog: Andi Sullivan - Opening Up the World of Woodturning to the Blind & Disabled.
The North Carolina Department of
Health and Human Services, Division of Services for the Blind, referred the
visually impaired clients who participated in the 2019 Lighthouse for the Blind
Malcolm Zander, who assists Andi Sullivan, said professional turner
Alan Leland has agreed to teach the division’s staff to turn, using the tools
donated through the program. The staff will then work with their visually
handicapped clients going forward.
Participants in the Lighthouse for the Blind 2019 turning session show off the pens they turned – nine participants including staff. (Photo by Malcolm Zander)
Teaching the Youth – a First for Andi
Although she has been an instructor for the Lighthouse for the Blind workshops since they began, this was the first year Andi was asked to also teach youth workshop sessions – one for pens and key rings and a second for a kaleidoscope.
youth were terrific,” Andi said, “and we all worked together like we had been
in class together for years. They would bring their items for me to feel.”
said her husband, Dr. Allen Miller, helped with all the sessions. “He was our
troubleshooter. He did a great job.”
addition to teaching turning sessions, Andi also moderated one of the panel
discussions, “Woodturning with Physical Limitations.”
“We had many
questions concerning how to turn when you cannot stand long,” Andi explained.
“There are now sit-down stands that can be modified to many lathes. In fact, we have one at our school donated by Brent English with Robust Tools.” Andi said the panel session was taped and should be going up on the AAW website soon.
Andi describes her life as “always trying to break through some kind of ceiling.” Her next “ceiling”: “I am hoping to find a corporate sponsor for the Lighthouse for the Blind programs. At present, the programs are funded by local woodturning clubs and private and corporate donations.”
it takes about $1,500 for supplies to operate a Lighthouse for the Blind
program each year, which would be a total of $10,500 for the seven programs
currently in operation.
each Lighthouse session takes Andi about a year, so she will begin soon looking
for a school or group to participate in the local Lighthouse for the Blind
program in Louisville, Kentucky, the site for the 2020 AWW symposium.
Andi will also be calling to check on the other seven programs as she continues her search for a corporate sponsor to keep the programs available to the disabled.
AWW volunteer John Buccioni helps turner Sarah Dodson guide her tool as she turns a pen in the Lighthouse for the Blind turning session. (Photo by Malcolm Zander)
Hats Off and a High Five to the American Association of Woodturners for supporting the Youth Turning Program, the Lighthouse for the Blind program, and for inviting Wounded Warriors and high school students to learn the satisfaction of transforming a piece of wood into something useful and/or a piece of art.
If you know anyone interested in learning to
turn in between Symposiums, send them to the nearest Woodcraft store to check
out the woodturning classes!
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