Camp Courage empowers young women to pursue first responder’s career

Firefighter Andréa Speranza, founder of Camp Courage, encourages young women to try careers as first responders in Halifax.

Founder and executive director of Camp Courage, 45-year-old Andréa Speranza is encouraging young women to try careers as first responders in Halifax.

The one-week intensive program aims to introduce females to emergency first responder’s services. Speranza created Camp Courage in 2006.

“As far as I could understand they just didn’t know what they’re missing,” said Speranza.

Speranza is currently a firefighter at the Eastern Passage Fire Hall. She spent four years as a volunteer firefighter before gaining a paid position.

The camp is free and accepts 24 young women into the program to develop confidence, leadership skills, and problem solving abilities.

Speranza fundraises $25,000 each year the camp runs. Due to a decrease in donations, Speranza is considering charging a fee for 2015 participants in order to sustain the camp.

“We need to invest more in our youth,” said Speranza. “I never went to camp when I was a kid and Camp Courage is everything I would have wanted to do if I did.”

Camp Courage runs every second year and is located at various fire stations around Halifax.

Applications for the program were due March 31 and participations are currently being chosen, said Speranza.

Speranza chooses applicants based on a written essay explaining how they would better life within their community if they attended Camp Courage.

“If the applicant is committed to implementing what they write about in their essay they will be accepted to attend the camp,” said Speranza.

Over seven days, Camp Courage teaches participants self-defence, how to shoot a gun, put out fires, and repel down walls. They will also learn basic paramedic training.

“The whole idea of the camp is really more about changing these young girls’ mindsets and getting them to challenge themselves to try new things even if they fail the first time,” said Speranza.

According to Canada’s 2006 national census, only about 3.6 per cent of firefighters were women.

“With more information and training and education more young women will be attracted to these fields of work,” said Speranza.

Cristy Webb, 19, attended Camp Courage two years ago.

“It really decided for me what I wanted to do with my life. Camp courage made me want to be a firefighter.”

Webb has since continued on to post-secondary education at the Marine Institute where she studied fire rescue and will be doing eight weeks of on-the-job training at Fire Station 13 in Dartmouth.

News Digest: March 23 – 26

Catch up on happenings on the Halifax peninsula, as reported by other news outlets.

Trouble Inmate sets herself ablaze at Truro prison (Chronicle Herald)

A women, unofficially identified as Camille Strickland-Murphy of St. John’s, set herself on fire at the Nova Institution for Women in Truro. Strickland-Murphy suffered second degree burns. In November, she was sentenced to 36 months in prison for attempted robbery and breach of probation. According to an anonymous source, the women stuffed her pant legs with paper and using a match or an outlet started the fire. Pamela Goulding, a provincial court judge, said Strickland-Murphy suffered from attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, social anxiety disorder and panic disorder. She also has a history of alcohol and drug abuse.

Whalen on N.S budget: Prepare to ‘feel some pain’ (Chronicle Herald)

On Wednesday, Finance Minister Diana Whalen delivered a warning about the upcoming provincial budget. She said the new budget will change the way government does business, including a complete review of department and services in order to cut back. Whalen also announced that the Nova Scotia Tourism Agency would become a Crown corporation led by a private-sector board.

NSCC hikes tuition by three per cent in most programs (Metro News)

On Thursday, Nova Scotia Community College announced that it would raise 2015-16 tuition rates by three per cent for most programs. A three per cent increase, for most students, adds up to an extra $90 in annual tuition costs. Tuition costs for the following programs will not go up: recording arts, health information management, certified welding, gas technician, heavy equipment operator, process operations 4th class, and aviation programs.

Halifax company says industrial snow melters could have conquered Old Man Winter (CTV News Atlantic)

A Halifax company said it has equipment to melt snow. Trecan Combustion builds industrial sized machines to melt snow faster and more efficiently than hauling it away. After the snow is loaded, it is melted in the machine and is driven over a manhole where the water empties into a sewer. Industrial snow melters are currently used at the Halifax Stanfield International Airport and the Halifax Shopping Centre. Halifax Regional Municipality considered using the machines, but ultimately found that they would not be worth the time or money due to high diesel costs.

Assault charges dropped against N.S woman with brain disorder (CTV Atlantic News)

Three charges against a women with an intellectual disability have been dropped. According to police, Nichele Benn allegedly struck an employee with a foam letter and a shoe at the Quest Regional Rehabilitation Centre on Dec. 12, 2013. The Crown decided not to proceed with charges of assault with a weapon.

HRM prepares for changes to curbside garbage collection

Halifax Regional Municipality spreads the word about changes to curb side garbage collection and enforcing the use of clear garbage bags for residences beginning in August.

The Halifax Regional Municipality spreads the word about changes to curbside garbage collection to enforce the use of clear garbage bags for residences on Aug. 1.

Single-unit residents will be required to place their garbage in a maximum of six clear garbage bags, only one of which can be black or private.

For multi-unit buildings a maximum of four clear garbage bags may be placed on the curb for pickup. Of those four only one can be black.

Garbage bags will still be able to be placed in standard sized garbage cans for storage and privacy.

Matthew Keliher, acting manager of Halifax’s solid waste division, said HRM is in the process of a public education campaign using print, radio, and digital advertising.

“Over 140,000 residences have been mailed pamphlets explaining what’s new and when it will take effect,” he said.

The decision to switch to clear bags was done to improve the accuracy of garbage pickup, Keliher said. “When curbside garbage is picked up, garbage collectors can see what items are being thrown away and prevent the disposal of any banned items.”

Shannon Betts, a waste resource analyst for HRM, said that the use of clear garbage bags would also promote proper recycling habits.

“Waste audits conducted over the past few years show that approximately half of the material arriving at our landfill should have been recycled or composted,” said Betts.

As a part of the public education campaign, retail outlets are in the process of changing their stock to include a variety of clear bags. There has been a six-month advanced notice of the changes, and Halifax solid waste staff has been working closely with bag manufacturers.

Keliher said residents would be responsible for proper sorting of garbage. “Items that don’t belong will be ticketed and not taken by garbage collectors,” he said.

Imperfect glass perfect for terrarium business

Mynott and Kovalik make handmade glass terrariums at their home studio in north-end Halifax. They’re expanding their online business, Minimalistos, to include a new line featuring recycled and imperfect glass.

Jelsi Mynott and Vlad Kovalik are on the hunt for old storm windows. If they’re warped with air bubbles, all the better.

Mynott and Kovalik make handmade glass terrariums at their home studio in north-end Halifax. They’re expanding their online business, Minimalistos, to include a new Heritage Line featuring recycled and imperfect glass.

“These oddities are pretty common in older glass out of wooden framed windows,” said Mynott. Although, for their current orders they avoid scratches and bubbles as much as possible, this line will incorporate them.

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Kovalik and Mynott travel around Nova Scotia collecting window glass wherever it’s available. They like storm windows and old windows with wood frames.

“We have over 100 windows sitting in our basement right now,” said Kovalik. “There’s always window glass everywhere in our house,” said Mynott.

By using recycled glass only from Nova Scotia, Kovalik and Mynott hope to reduce their impact on the environment while keeping with a minimal design aesthetic.

“I think it’s neat that we’re sending parts of Nova Scotia around the world. These windows have seen so much weather and history,” Mynott said holding up individual pieces of triangle shaped glass.

Mynott and Kovalik, both 26, started Minimalistos in 2013. They turned a large second bedroom into a home studio and put a table in the middle of the room where they measure and cut glass.

“It’s all done in our home studio. Everything is done by hand from finding glass, to grinding the edges of the glass down, to soldering the pieces together to form a shape,” said Kovalik.

More than 20 terrariums of different shapes and sizes are on display in the couple’s house. Kovalik picks up one of the square-shaped designs with freshly soldered edges and a missing panel of glass.

“It takes hours of work getting it out of the frame, especially the ones with wooden frames. The learning curve can be pretty sharp especially when you risk breaking a vital pieces of glass,” said Mynott.

Their work day begins with a cup of coffee together. When they’re ready, they remove the glass from its frame and cut it into long strips. Then they cut the glass into shapes and use solder and a soldering iron to attach the pieces together.

They say they spend up to 50 hours a week creating their geometric glass sculptures. They have even begun working on weekends to keep up with product orders.

“A partnership makes all the work a little easier because sometimes I just don’t feel like working and he’s there telling me to get going,” said Mynott.

Currently, Minimalisto terrariums are sold worldwide through an online website where prices range from $55 for smaller shapes to $160 for larger, more complex shapes.

Several shops in Halifax, including Makenew, The Flower Shop and Common Values Emporium also carry the couple’s handmade sculptures. Mynott and Kovalik say they’ve sold more than 500 individual terrariums so far.

They will do custom designs for customers, and Mynott said they’re currently designing an exclusive line for Crown Flora Studio in Ontario.

They’re also experimenting with copper-coloured terrariums as part of their new designs.

“We never thought we would ever actually have a business, that was a bit unexpected but I think having the time to make things creatively as a career is amazing,” said Mynott.

Neither Mynott nor Kovalik have formal training in creative design. Mynott studied philosophy and Kovalik’s background is in medical research.

“We’ve always been DIYers. If there’s something we really want that’s way out of reach because we couldn’t possibly afford it then we’ll try and build it. That’s always been a big part of our relationship,” said Mynott.

Boxes of bubble-wrapped terrariums sit in the corner of the studio ready to be shipped.

Mynott said having a good relationship with their customers is what makes them work harder to make their deadlines.

“Halifax is a very supportive environment and very connected community which pushes you to do even better work,” she said.