Woodcraft Supports American Association of Woodturners Programs for Youth and the Visually Impaired

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PARKERSBURG, W.VA. (August 2017) AAW programs to teach youth and the visually impaired the art of woodturning are growing at the national symposium level and expanding into local communities around the country. Woodcraft is one of several woodworking industry sponsors who support the programs.

“Woodcraft applauds these initiatives by the American Association of Woodturners (AAW) to bring young people and the visually impaired into the woodworking community through woodturning instruction,” Woodcraft president Jody Garrett said. “Support for this double initiative fits in with Woodcraft’s focus on woodworking education and preserving the craft for future generations.” Woodcraft donated 26 face shields for the two programs.

PHOTO:  Eli Avisera helps a young turner during a Youth Turning Workshop at the American Association of Woodturners 2017 Symposium (Photo courtesy of Andi Wolfe and AAW).

Attracting Youth

Since 2005, the American Association of Woodturners (AAW) has welcomed youth 10 to 18 to register free for the Youth Turning Workshops held in conjunction with the annual national symposium. The program is designed to attract young people to the craft of woodturning. Youth must be accompanied by an adult who is registered for the symposium. There is no limit to the number of participants, and no prior woodturning experience is required.

The 39 youth registered this year for the symposium held in Kansas City, Missouri, in June could choose to turn a variety of pieces – candlesticks, spinning tops, cupcakes, a Harry Potter Wand, a classic vase and more – in the five workshops taught by experienced turners. Turning pieces created by the youth were displayed in the youth turning area and in the AAW Instant Gallery.

“One really neat thing in 2017 was that Kaille Bosch, who was an early participant in the youth turning program and won a lathe package, was one of the adult instructors for two of the youth program rotations,” symposium director Jeff Brockett said.  Bosch joined Eli Avisera, Rex Burningham, Steve Cook and Jim Rodgers on the teaching team.

YOUTH Turning

A young turning student learning to turn at the AAW Woodturners Symposium. (Photo courtesy of Andi Wolfe and AAW.)
Eli Avisera helps a young turner during a Youth Turning Workshop. (Photo courtesy of Andi Wolfe and AAW).

Curt Theobold assists his daughter during one of the youth turning program rotations. (Photo courtesy of Andi Wolfe and AAW).

Fifteen 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, Brockett said.

“Another change,” Brockett said, “was that 10 of the lathe packages went to AAW chapters who are establishing turning programs for youth. This is the first time that the AAW has done this, and it will be interesting to see how those programs do.” In the past all 25 packages went to participants in the Youth Turning Workshops at the symposium.

Welcoming the Visually Impaired

Another exciting development Brockett reported: “This is the first year that we set aside one full class to support the Lighthouse for the Blind turning event, with more than 20 visually impaired people making pens under the tutelage of Andi Sullivan and her team of volunteers.”

In the past years, Brockett said one turning rotation was provided for the visually impaired to learn to turn a pen to take home, with Sullivan and other volunteers assisting them. “For Kansas City we had more participants than lathes, so we ran two sessions to allow everyone to turn a pen.”  

Visually Impaired

Andi Sullivan, who is visually impaired, teaches visually impaired David Albright to turn a pen. (Photo courtesy of Andi Wolfe and AAW.)
The Lighthouse group is guided through the Instant Gallery and provided the opportunity to touch and feel different pieces. (Photo courtesy of Andi Wolfe and AAW).

A visually impaired young man gets the opportunity to touch and feel woodturned pieces in the Instant Gallery. (Photo courtesy of Andi Wolfe and AAW).

After the symposium, the local Lighthouse group received a full lathe package that will provide them with the equipment to start a turning program for the visually impaired – the fifth one established in cities that have hosted AAW symposiums as the result of Sullivan’s work with AAW.

Sullivan, who is visually impaired, became interested in woodturning in 2010 and worked persistently through many obstacles to learn the craft. At the 2013 AAW symposium she chaired a panel discussion, “Turners with Disabilities,” which led to a partnership with the local Lighthouse of Tampa, Florida, to teach woodturning to the blind. The program’s success led Sullivan to work with the AAW to launch a plan to establish similar programs in cities that host a symposium.

In addition to Tampa, programs have been set up in Phoenix, Pittsburgh, Atlanta and Kansas City. “Local AAW chapters partner with the visually impaired programs in those cities to keep interest up and provide resources,” Brockett said.

For more about the American Association of Woodturners, visit www.woodturner.org.

To learn more about Woodcraft, please contact the store nearest you, visit www.woodcraft.com or call (800) 535-4482. To learn about Woodcraft franchise opportunities, visit www.woodcraftfranchise.com or email woodcraftfranchise@woodcraft.com.

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