A young Port Alberni writer is organizing a series of children’s art workshops at the Rollin Art Centre this summer.
Hannah Cheetham is one of Rollin’s two summer arts coordinators, hired to run the arts programs and help out with Teas on the Terrace, both of which kick off in July. This is Cheetham’s second summer working with the Rollin Art Centre.
“We plan out the camps and design the brochures,” Cheetham explained. “We really have full control over everything.”
This year, the Rollin Art Centre will be bringing back a popular summer program—creative writing workshops for youth and teens aged 10-15. Cheetham is also planning and running the art programs, but the creative writing workshop is her own personal project.
“We had several parents say their kids were interested,” Cheetham explained. “Plus writing is something I really love. It just kind of worked perfectly.”
Cheetham took the writing program herself when it was offered by Tess Lund a few years ago. She said her goal is to create a “creative writing community,” especially amoung young people in Port Alberni.
“It’s just a way to bring everybody together,” she said.
Last year, Cheetham published four books of her own as part of a Social Justice project she worked on at Alberni District Secondary School. She used Storybird—a website where writers can write stories based on artwork—to create works based around the themes of Peace, Love, Diversity and Service. Cheetham also received a $150 grant from RBC 150 to help cover the cost of getting these books printed.
“I wanted to give a set of books to elementary schools around town,” Cheetham explained.
Through this experience, Cheetham was able to lead a couple workshops for elementary school students and was even flown to Toronto for an interview.
“I never would have expected a school project to lead to that,” she said. “The cool thing was I got to share my stories with everyone.”
She started the project, she said, because she wanted to hold discussions around her four chosen themes. “That’s how we make change,” she said.
The theme for summer programs at the Rollin Art Centre this year is “Journey to the Castle of Creativity.” Cheetham said she wanted a theme for the whole summer to tie everything together.
“It’s about finding what creativity means to us and what inspires us,” she said. “The ‘journey’ means the emphasis is on finding and exploring. Kids don’t have a lot of opportunity to experiment artistically in school.
“I want to give them that opportunity to explore that side of things. They can make their everyday lives and school lives that much more creative and imaginative.”
Each writing workshop will start with a creative warmup—a game to help students get to know each other, freewriting or even doing some other type of art.
“It’s about getting into that creative mindset to start,” said Cheetham.
The warmup will be followed by different lessons and writing exercises. Students will have an opportunity to share their work if they want to, and students who take part in all six workshops will have an opportunity to work on a large writing project.
“I really like doing big projects,” said Cheetham. “And this way it teaches them a bit about the editing process.”
You can register kids for workshops at the Rollin Art Centre. Creative writing is offered on Mondays from July 9 to August 20. It is offered from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. for students aged 10-12, and 1 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. for students aged 13-15. The cost is $15 per session or $75 for all six sessions.
The art classes take place on Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday from July 3 to August 24. They are offered from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. for students aged 7-9 and 12:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. for students aged 10-12. The cost is $50 per week.