When the International Abilympics get underway this March in Bordeaux, France, Helena Mabbett will be there, ready to compete.
For several months, the Welding program graduate has been visiting the Akerley Campus each weekday morning to train for this event.
“I’d like to bring home gold, but any medal would be a good outcome,” says Helena. “I don’t know who the competition is, but I can say the more pressure I am under, the better I weld, so I think I have a shot at it.”
This will be Helena’s first-ever skills competition, and she’s excited to be participating. For one, It’s a chance to visit France on an all-expenses-paid trip. But it’s also an opportunity for Helena, who has dyslexia, to put her NSCC training to the test in an event designed for people with physical and mental disabilities.
“Because I have problems with reading and writing, I enjoy things that are hands-on, and that’s one reason why welding appealed to me,” says Helena. “Once you’re trained to do it, you’re pretty much good to go.”
Helena was also drawn to welding because, as she puts it, ‘I like fire. Yes, I do. If you’re afraid of fire, you can’t be a good welder, because temperatures can reach 22,000 degrees.”
Steve Stewart, who is a second-year welding instructor and captain of the Nova Scotia Welding Skills team, is coaching Helena throughout her training. “Her skills have really come along. She’s got a great work ethic. And nothing seems to phase her. No matter how difficult or challenging the work may be, she never gives up. I think she'll do well in this competition.”
Apart from training, Helena’s is building her skills at the Halifax Shipyard, helping to build Canada’s new fleet of navy ships. She’s looking forward to a long career there, but is also thinking that, one day, she’d like to be an NSCC welding instructor.
“There’s nothing like being able to share what you have learned with someone else. It makes them a better student, and it makes them better when they get into a trade.”