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July 26, 2016

The Next 20: Lisa Helps

The Next 20: Lisa Helps

This year is ArtStarts' 20th Anniversary. As we celebrate our accomplishments and impact, we are also inspired to think ahead about what the next 20 years hold for young people. What role can art and creativity play to support our next generation to thrive in the future?

To help us explore this question, we sat down with 20 community leaders across different sectors and asked them to share their story and thoughts on the relevance of art and creativity. Over 20 weeks, we'll share these stories with you. We hope that they will inspire you to join our community of supporters so that together we can continue to build a bright future for BC's young people.

This week's Next 20 community builder is Lisa Helps, Mayor of the City of Victoria.  Mayor Helps has a long history in building rich, vibrant communities and supports the enrichment of young people as strong leaders and contributing world citizens. Lisa is a Pierre Elliott Trudeau Scholar and also helped to create Canada's first Youth Poet Laureate program in Victoria.

How do you define creativity?

Creativity is the ability to express who we are as human beings and our connections in the world.

What supports the development of creativity?

Freedom. It's that simple. If people feel that they have freedom and security, then there's room for creativity.

What inhibits the development of creativity?

The opposite of freedom - too many boundaries, too many restrictions. Inhibiting creativity is anything that restricts that sense of who we are as human beings.

What does creativity look like in your life – personal and/or professional?

It took me awhile to think of myself as a creative person. I can't draw to save my life and I have a little bit of musical talent. Yet for me, how I am creative is in how I think. In all of these different challenges and opportunities facing us as a city, and as a region, province and country, the 21st century demands creativity in thinking. Sometimes how you get from here to there is by going into seven different directions.

What sparks your curiosity?

When people have a different opinion than I do. If someone says I totally disagree with you and I think this, I’m genuinely curious - tell me more and why do you think that? Difference is interesting to me.

How would you describe your experiences at school as a child?

I was a hyper overachiever and I was also a pain in school. I was always the one asking the ‘but why?’ questions. I'm just curious by nature. I managed to have created enough space around me as a kid to have room to be curious. I was a very determined kid.

In your opinion, what is the purpose of school?

School was designed historically to make people ready for the work force and to discipline people, and I think education needs a really good blowing up. And the work that ArtStarts does is so important to that. To foster creativity in school, if that can help transform what school is and what it's there for, I think that's really powerful.

Why is it important for young people to learn the arts and embrace their creative potential?

It's fundamental to who we are as human beings. Whether it's creative thinking, or drawing or coding, it's part of our human capacity. Creativity is a part of who we are as humans, the desire to express. It makes us full humans.

How would you like to see classrooms evolve in the next 20 years?

I think if there could be more real world opportunities for students and less in the classroom learning, that would be great.

What skills do young people need to thrive in the future?

Everyone will need to learn English and code. Coding is the new language, it's a critically important skill.  Other critically important skills that young people will need to know are empathy and collaboration.

And what do you think are good vehicles to learn about collaboration and empathy?

Working on real world challenges and working with people who are different because that's where we learn empathy when we're working across difference or with difference in a safe environment then there's room to be empathetic. 

What do you think the world will be like in 20 years?

It's really hard to say. I think it will be more open-sourced and more DIY. I think there will be more entrepreneurs and less corporations. I think it will be very enterprising. I think we're going to see an economy that's based on talent, innovation and creativity and the ability to deeply collaborate.

What advice can you offer young people today?

Have courage to tell your story with your whole heart. And be yourself.


We want to hear from you!

How do you express your creativity?

Share your ideas on Facebook.

At ArtStarts in Schools, we want to ensure that young people across British Columbia have opportunities to develop their curiosity and creative potential and to build skills to thrive in the next 20 years—and beyond.

You can help us realize our vision by donating today and joining our community of supporters.

Learn more about ArtStarts in Schools and the work we do and discover additional ways you can show your support.

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