T-Shirts & Teen Night


T-Shirts & Teen Night


I remember hearing the phrases ‘creative problem solver’ and ‘flexible adapter’ a lot as I was growing up. In middle school our teachers explained that we needed to become these to make it in the world. In college, my small liberal arts school prided themselves on producing graduates that embodied these attributes. But it wasn’t until I began spotting these characteristics in our own teens that I realized the real-world value of these skills.


Last week our original plans for ACTS Teens night were rained out. Instead of sitting around being bummed, or cancelling plans all together, our teens and volunteers thought creatively about what skills and opportunities we have available to us. Kylen, my husband and longtime volunteer, owns Silkscreen Marketing here in Holland offered to teach us about screen printing and the design process.


He had the kids sit around the dining room table and handed out drawing paper to each teen;  they then got busy sketching. Each had ideas, images, a new ACTS design dreamed up in their head… if I am honest, I was curious about how ONE uniform design would come together! Once finished, they all worked together to pick pieces of each others sketches that they liked, going back and forth, listening to each other, and being willing to let go of certain elements they liked when it wasn’t what the whole wanted. Ultimately, we combined several of the ideas into a sweet ACTS van image.We then visited Kylen’s print shop and learn about the design process from making ideas and sketches into an actual image that can be turned into a screen.

"Nothing is better than having our kiddos come to see what I get to do everyday at work!” said Kylen. “ They have great questions about how everything works. This group is really hands on which makes for a fun design and a very meaningful shirt. Their eyes light up when the ink passes through the screen onto the shirt."

In one night these kids turned concepts in their minds into shirts on their backs; this could never have all come together if they weren’t willing to think creatively, be flexible and be open to compromise. It is important to me that we are facilitating opportunities like this, chances for our kids to learn to communicate, to be willing and able to change direction and creatively find a solution to a problem

"It turned out so sweet” one of our teens exclaimed as they pulled their freshly printed t-shirt at the end of the night, “I am totally wearing this tomorrow!”