International student launches creative youth outreach program

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‘Creo’ founder Olaoluwa Olatunbosun hopes his art workshops will help at-risk youth in the Sault

If expressing your creativity can take a lot of courage, everyone has the ability to share their talents and discover new ones.

That’s the message Olaoluwa Olatunbosun, a 20-year-old student at Sault College, hopes to share with his new creativity-focused program for local youth.

Originally from Nigeria, Olatunbosun left his home country at the age of 13 with his mother and two siblings. He lived in big cities like Las Vegas, Montreal and Toronto before making the decision to come to the Sault last September to take the college’s graphic design program.

After settling into small town life, he felt something was missing here.

“In terms of creativity, I’ve noticed there aren’t a lot of outlets for young people to be a creative genius,” he says.

It was then that he had the idea of ​​creating Creo, a program intended to provide training and spaces for young people seeking to express their creative abilities.

Creo comes from Latin and means “creation”.

While in southern Ontario, Olatunbosun studied computer science and got a summer job as a web designer for his church in Toronto. Although the program did not work out, he discovered his passion for graphic design and ultimately his artistic calling.

Since arriving in Sault in September, Olatunbosun has found the United Baptist Church united and he has received permission to operate his workshops outside the building. United Baptist even provided Olatunbosun with $1,000 in funding to help start his business.

“A church is always a really good place where I feel safe,” he says. “It’s a very safe space.”

Olatunbosun intends to organize classes and workshops for people between the ages of 15 and 30, while providing a place for young people to meet and express their creativity through activities such as painting, drawing and watercolor.

The graphic design student says that while the aspect of freedom of expression was a huge motivating factor in creating Creo, the original intentions of the program run much deeper.

“This was created in an effort to combat drug use in Sault Ste. Mary,” he said. “There’s so much that these drug-affected kids deserve, and they didn’t get it. And because they haven’t understood it, they indulge in things that tarnish their future. I want to be able to create a space in the Sault where people can find a way to put those things aside and focus on something else.

Olatunbosun’s transition to Canadian life was difficult, especially because he had never experienced a cold winter before.

“I love this place, but the only thing I dread is the cold,” he says.

Olatunbosun admits he felt very isolated during the colder months and wished there had been a program like Creo to help distract him during this difficult time of year.

“It’s a devastating time for a lot of people,” he said. “There’s not a lot of sunshine, and that comes with a bit of sadness – and that struck me as well. I feel like if I had a community of creatives, it would have made a huge difference.

Olatunbosum plans to launch its first Creo class at United Baptist in the coming weeks with a water-coloring workshop.

While in Toronto, Olatunbosum attended an innovation center at a nearby library where they had powerful computers that allowed children to explore the ins and outs of graphic design.

He spent countless hours learning to use Adobe Illustrator and began publishing his work online.

“I was getting millions of views,” he says. “I just kept getting better and I knew it was something I wanted to get into.”

Besides providing a space for hands-on workshops like painting and drawing, Olatunbosum has bigger ambitions to integrate computers into a space so children can use them to develop their graphic design skills.

“The only reason I’m as good as I am now is because I had this space in Toronto to keep training,” he said.

Olatunbosum recognizes there’s a ton of potential here for young people to express their artistic abilities, and he says a place like Creo could have a positive impact on the community.

“Before you know it, there could be creative all over town, and this place is becoming a creative hub,” he says. “This is where I want to see the city go. I want it to be a place where people can freely express their creativity. Where people can sit and enjoy a workshop, learn and create. »

Olatunbosum shares his work on his Instagram and TikTok pages under @olastrator.

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