Students get ahead on safety with crushing experience

Crushed watermelons provided an important safety message for Lansdowne Middle School students getting an introduction to the trades on Friday.

The summer treats were used to represent the unprotected head, and demolishing them showed just how vulnerable the head can be without a hard hat.

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“It replicates a work site and the importance of safety and overhead falling,” said Kyle Preston, apprenticeship adviser for the Industry Training Authority.

“So we’ve got a bolt coming down a chute on top of a watermelon. It emulates being on a work site and what would happen if something fell on your head, and how important it is to be aware and wear a helmet.”

The safety stop was one of several stations set up on the school field. Others were a crane demonstration, a wheel-barrow obstacle course with ramps and speed bumps, and stilt-making.

Don Cameron, who helped organize the event, said it was being taken in by about 120 Grade 8 students.

“They’re participating in the Trade Extravaganza, where our students are getting exposure to 10 different trade areas, everything from using lift hand signals, electrical, sheet metal,” he said.

“What we’re doing is exposing them to the trades in a way that hopefully can be fun but really engaging, too.”

With so much going on it resembled a three-ring circus, Cameron said.

The gathering was a group effort, Preston said.

“The collaboration was the school district, the South Island Partnership, the B.C. Construction Foundation and the Industry Training Authority.”

He said the South Island Partnership brings together Camosun College and five south Island school districts — Greater Victoria, Saanich, Sooke, Gulf Islands and Cowichan Valley — to give students a head-start on their careers.

Student Eden Andrews said she wanted to try all of the stations. “The crane’s quite interesting,” she said.

“Learning how to use a lever and tying knots is interesting, as well.

“Definitely, the watermelon is a great part.”

Andrews said she could see herself in the trades in the future. “I quite like wood shop.”

Preston said there is expected to be a great need for skilled trades workers over the next decade.

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