Students’ artistic creations raise money, awareness for community wash project

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The leap from Robin Lethbridge’s interest in art to making sure some of the basic needs of Ottawans are met may seem like a big chasm at first glance. But that distance narrowed considerably when Lethbridge and other artistically inclined high school students recently displayed their talents in the center court of the St. Laurent shopping center to raise money and publicize the Community Laundry Cooperative.

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Lethbridge, a high school student from Merivale, is part of the Specialist High Skills Major program, or SHSM (usually pronounced “shism”), which encourages Ontario students to pursue areas of particular interest — the arts, in Lethbridge’s case – to earn college credit towards their high school diplomas while also gaining practical vocational skills.

SHSMs are available in nearly 20 industries, including arts and culture, agriculture, food processing, manufacturing, construction, aerospace, hospitality and tourism, and sports.

“I learned a lot of things I’ve never done before, like screen printing,” Lethbridge says. “And we learn a lot about the business side of art, so all of that makes me feel a lot more confident when I go into the job market later on.”

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Friday’s fundraiser was organized by DeSerres, the St. Laurent art supply store and a partner in the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board’s SHSM program. Through DeSerres, professional artist Max K Black collaborates with the program’s summer co-op students.

“The program allows professional artists in the field to work with students so they can develop their skills as professional artists, learn art and learn how to actually succeed, and partner with DeSerres to create works of art that are then useful to our community. community,” Black said.

Merivale High School student Isabella McDowell is working on a screen print at the St. Laurent Shopping Center in Ottawa on Friday.  Tony Caldwell/Postmedia
Merivale High School student Isabella McDowell is working on a screen print at the St. Laurent Shopping Center in Ottawa on Friday. Tony Caldwell/Postmedia

Not every student will become a professional artist, she added, but all will learn how to apply their creativity to other tasks, such as design and marketing.

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“As a creative person, you’re going to use those skills in whatever industry you go into. And that’s a big part; understanding that your creativity and your abilities, and using these art materials and thinking in a creative, out-of-the-box way, will give you a huge head start as you progress in life. Because as creative people, we need to understand that that’s a big part of the industry.”

“These,” says Thomas Baribault, manager at DeSerres, who has been involved with the SHSM program for about 15 years, “are real skills that they learn and then use in all walks of life.”

Meanwhile, Phil Robinson, executive director of the Community Laundry Cooperative, said the fundraiser, which includes 120 hand-painted sketchbooks for sale for $20 each, will help the organization, which receives some funding from the city, but not enough to cover all of the costs. to cover.

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“We also hope that with this event we will be able to talk to people who would benefit from accessing our services. So we are lucky that Thomas (Baribault) really looked at us and approached us to work with the co-op students. We really appreciate the support.”

Founded nearly 25 years ago, the Laundry Co-op is a charity that primarily serves customers living below the poverty line, including seniors, new Canadians, single parents, those who are homeless or who have physical, developmental, substance use, and mental health problems. to have . From its home on McArthur Avenue, it offers inexpensive self-service laundromats—two dollars for wash and dry, which includes detergent and coffee. It also hires people who face labor barriers to do laundry for individuals and small businesses. Not unimportantly, the cooperative also employs a social worker who can direct interested customers to other community supports.

“We have a social worker who can give advice,” Robinson said. “We help people access the food bank. Housing is a big problem. And health issues, especially with many new Canadians trying to find a doctor who speaks their first language.

“People come because they want clean clothes, but we do a lot of referrals.”

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