Teens Launch Art Toolkits!

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Creative Teens Take Action

Toolkits for creative projects now available to teens at the Ypsilanti District Library

View photos from the launch party »

Many people think of the library as a quiet place to study and check out books, but some Ypsilanti teens have a different vision. Last weekend, teens launched new “Creative Toolkits,” high-end art supplies, digital art tools, and music equipment for young people to create art at the library.

The kits were developed by the library’s Teen Advisory Group (TAG). Teens’ knowledge of music, visual art, and spoken word guided what would be in the kits and how they will be used. Youth between the ages of 12-18 can borrow the kits to use in the library's Whittaker Road location for one hour intervals. TAG members will also lead regular themed drop-in open studio sessions and open mic times beginning in the summer. 

“The creative toolkits and workshops were designed to offer high-quality supplies to teens in the community because everyone should be able to access their dreams,” said TAG member Evie Talbot.  

Toolkits will include:

  • Digital Music: Laptop with FL Studio, midi controller, drum pad controller headphones and recording microphone
  • Music Jams: Keyboard, ukuleles, guitars, music stands, microphone, amp and tuners
  • Digital Art: Laptop with Wacom tablet
  • Visual Art: Copic markers, Prismacolor pencils, Sakura koi watercolor sets, precision markers, shading pencils and paper
  • Digital Cutouts: Laptop with Cricut and materials to cut out such as vinyl and iron-on decals
  • Fiber Art: yarn, crochet hooks, knitting needles and how-to books and patterns

The Ypsilanti District Library, led by TAG members, have been rethinking teen services as part of the Youth Driven Spaces initiative with the Neutral Zone. Their goal is to make the teen space at the Whittaker Road library in Ypsilanti Township an engaging, vibrant place for teens to gather, TAG members wrote a grant proposal to the Ann Arbor Area Community Foundation Youth Council to support launching the Creative Toolkits.

TAG members attend different schools throughout the area and participate in a variety of extracurricular activities in the community, but one thing they all have in common is a passion for the arts. They know tools, supplies and space need to be readily available so youth can experiment, explore, and collaborate to fully develop their creative skills.

Putting their Youth Driven Spaces training to use, TAG members planned the Creative Toolkit Launch Party and led activities with the new kits. Local teens were invited to drop by and be part of the jam session, make art with the new supplies, design and cut out their own decals, and eat pizza.

“We’re trying to make a way for teens to build new relationships and bring together the community,” said TAG member Melvin Lilly.

Beyond providing tools for local teens to create with at the library, TAG members hope to improve the teen space by adding more comfortable seating, flexible work space, and display areas for youth artwork. Their ultimate goal is to make the library a place where a diverse group of youth can come together for creative projects and share ideas without fear of bullying or negativity.

TAG member Anna Kreiner says, "I have been working with YDL for most of my teen years. This group has helped me grow as an individual as well as making some great friends. We all love that it is a teen based organization."


View photos from the launch party »


As a community resource, the Ypsilanti District Library’s mission is to enrich life, stimulate intellectual curiosity, foster literacy, and encourage an informed citizenry.

Teen Advisory Group: inspiring creative youth-driven opportunities for Ypsilanti area teens by building meaningful connections at the library and beyond.

Neutral Zone Youth Driven Spaces: Youth-driven programs increase youth engagement, develop 21st Century & socio-emotional learning skills, support higher-quality programs and prepare young people for roles in civic engagement. Training and coaching support for the Youth Driven Spaces project was generously supported by the DTE Energy Foundation

Ann Arbor Area Community Foundation Youth Council provides Ann Arbor high school students with a unique opportunity to make a meaningful difference in our community - through philanthropy and community service.

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