Teens Gone Wired and You Could Live a Long Time both emphasize the power of art and creativity. In his book Five Minds for the Future, developmental psychologist Howard Gardner identified the creating mind as one of the cognitive abilities that will be critical for success. “Because almost anything that can be formulated as rules will be done well by computers,” he says, “rewards will go to creators – those who have constructed a box but can think outside it.” Teens benefit in a myriad of ways from creative pursuits. They can expand their networks, make new friends and practice offline social skills. Artistic activities require discipline and focus which calm multi-tasking minds over-stimulated by incessant digital demands. The arts can open young minds to the realities of others and help develop the ethical mind and the respectful mind - two other capacities highlighted by Gardner.
In later years, creative arts offer similar potential for growth and fun. The photo above shows Art Fidler with the cast of Original Kids Theatre Company on the opening night of their production of Les Miserables. Art was my high school English teacher. About 15 years ago he retired from a lifetime of inspiring students to embark on a second career as Artistic Director and then Director of Marketing for OKTC. Located in London, Ontario, OKTC has an ensemble of over 300 young people between the ages of 8 and 18. They produce up to 22 productions a year and run summer theatre camps. Volunteers are the lifeblood of OKTC and they do everything from making costumes and props to helping with stage management and box office.
Here’s how Art describes the OKTC experience:
“I'm lucky in not only having all these great kids around, but also all these great adults as volunteers too. One of the healthy things about an organization like ours is the building of friendship through interacting in person with all ages and working together to create something as beautiful as you possibly can, and then giving it away with love to others. A real living social network!”
Here’s the pleasure Joanne King “OKTC Grandma” derives from volunteering.
“I can't tell you how much I love being part of Original Kids. What it has done for my grandson and so many other kids is just amazing. Working backstage is great. I love the energy and the excitement that fills the green room on all the shows.”