In my past two years as Program Lead in Sault Ste. Marie I have had the opportunity to meet and work alongside the most incredible teen artists, musicians, actors, entrepreneurs, scientists, computer geniuses, filmmaking pros, and more. It has been a real gift to learn about the diverse, talented, passionate (and cool) youth here in my hometown. Even more meaningful perhaps, has been observing how access to and authority over a teen-only community space has empowered these youth towards creating independent digital content, organizing their own events, and participating meaningfully in our community at various local festivals.
We recently celebrated our 2-year milestone with a pizza party and Mario kart tournament, which saw over 30 teens in attendance. What could be cooler than a bunch of teenagers actively taking-over a library for a day full of fun, inclusive, creative energy? And let me tell you, this party was “lit”. What’s more, once again, our teens never cease to impress us here. This mob of 30+ teens self-organized into an impromptu Super Smash Bros tournament. They were respectful of other library patrons and one another. They helped with everything, from pizza-distributing to tournament-management, to looking out for the kid who has the VR goggles on so they don’t walk into something (lol, it’s a real danger)! AND, they said SO many thank you’s. The gratitude was palpable, and much like when teens first come into the space and can’t believe all this is really just for them, and really totally free, they couldn’t believe that we were really throwing this party to celebrate & reward them.
What I can’t believe is how any of our SSM teens could doubt for a second that they are totally worth celebrating. Heck, if we could throw you folks a pizza party every week, we would! Every single teen who has participated in Digital Creator North – Sault Ste. Marie has contributed to our quirky, magical, library-based, micro-culture where everyone is welcome, celebrated, uniquely gifted, and absolutely belongs. You have made this space the most rewarding workplace I could have ever imagined, and have made Digital Creator a space teens want to hangout at. Here’s to YOU!
Ok, totally crying now, gonna stop writing.
Big thanks to all the SSM teens, and to all the Digital Creator participants across Northern Ontario.
You. Are. The. Best!