Home Depot workshops teach children life skills, boost self-esteem

Tuesday , March 18, 2014 - 12:46 PM

Dana Rimington

LAYTON — Once a month in most Home Depot stores around the nation, sounds of kids’ hammers pounding away at their project echos through the building.

For Home Depot associates, it is a sound of pure joy.

For the Layton store, one of Home Depot’s largest stores in the western United States, it’s all about the kids.

“We made kids our focus, because we’re here not just to reap the rewards from the community, but to add value to the community. What better way to do that than through the kids?” said Layton Home Depot Store Manager Scott Woodrow.

The free kids’ workshops are available on the first Saturday of every month to help teach kids do-it-yourself skills and tool safety.

For one father and his three sons, it has been a tradition for the last eight years.

“We started coming as a scout project. Now it is a tradition every month for us and we go out for breakfast afterward,” said Brandon Hatch, of Syracuse.

His three boys, ages 14, 12, and 9, have made all sorts of projects over the years, including a toolbox, planter box, picture frame, and a fire truck.

For Carter Hatch, 9, his favorite project was the first one he built, a train he did at age 5.

His older brother, Nathan Hatch, 12, said he always looks forward to the event.

“I just like building stuff, and I’ve learned to not hit yourself (with the tools) because you can break a fingernail,” something he has learned from painful experience.

The kids’ workshops have become a popular event for the stores during the last 10 years, since they began the program. When the Layton store opened five years ago, they picked up on the activity and it grew so much that they use an entire lumber aisle for the workshop tables.

They average about 600 kids each month, who come in with a parent, or another adult to work on the projects.

“We are trying to instill in them the confidence that they can use a hammer and screwdriver, and build their self-esteem,” said Woodrow. “In a lot of cases, it is the only time little Johnny gets an hour of alone time with mom and dad in the week.”

Lining the table at a recent activity in Layton were grandpas with grandkids, uncles spending time with nephews, moms with their daughters, and entire families building away.

Steve Knecht, of Layton, was helping his two girls build a window bird feeder.

“I work with wood all the time, and thought they would enjoy it too,” said Knecht. “Absolutely, girls can do just as good a job as the boys.”

His daughter, 8-year-old Sami Knecht, agreed.

“My dad built me a bunk bed, so I wanted to come learn how to build things too,” she said.

Kids aren’t too young to learn how to use tools either, according to Woodrow. He said the kids are learning life skills they will need down the road.

“Even if you are a homeowner in New York, you’ll still have to repair a sink, so this teaches them even at a young age that you can do it,” said Woodrow. “Kids are fascinated with tools anyway.”

Sign up for e-mail news updates.