This year DesignTO has inaugurated DesignTO Youth, an exciting new program aimed at engaging youth in the city. The inspiration for this project came from a desire to serve the community and connect with new demographics through design. Join us for DesignTO Youth: The Skatrix on January 21.

DesignTO Youth offers youth in the city unique learning opportunities, including speaker sessions, tours, and workshops with creative practitioners based right here in Toronto. Participants also have the opportunity to show their work during the festival gaining exposure to a wide audience and allowing them to make connections in Toronto’s design community. DesignTO Youth aims to connect youth with opportunities, share creative expertise, engage youth and designers and improve the chances of youth pursuing creative sector education or employment.

For the first year of DesignTO Youth, DesignTO has partnered with Oasis Skateboard Factory (OSF), an alternative school which is part of the Toronto District School Board that uses a hands on learning model, allowing students to learn how to design and fabricate skateboards and build their own brand. This year the DesignTO Youth program focused on animation connecting the students directly with artists and leaders in Toronto.

Oasis Skateboard Factory has participated in DesignTO for many years, so DesignTO Youth was an exciting way to build deeper engagement with this community. “The opportunity to build new skills in animation and meet mentors in the community is very exciting,” says OSF teacher Lauren Hortie, “From guest animators to field trips to animation studios to hands on workshops the students have met a wide variety of adults with cool jobs.” 

Students had the chance to hear from video game designer and Program Director of the Toronto Film School Rob Elsworthy. The students also had the chance to participate in a tour of world-renowned animation studio House of Cool, allowing them to learn about careers in animation. An animation bootcamp led by Toronto-based new media artist and educator Tommy Truong taught the students about animation methods and skills, such as stop-motion, rotoscoping, sound recording, and editing. 

For the creative practitioners the experience has also been uniquely rewarding. “As a youth, I had a few mentors who gave me the time and guidance to find my own direction in life, and I want to pass on what experience and knowledge I can to the next generation,” says Rob Elsworthy. “As an independent animation/filmmaker, I was attracted by the idea of working with youths, and guiding them in creating animation projects from beginning to end, and potentially inspiring a career in filmmaking,” explains Tommy Truong. “We always welcome up and coming artists to the studio to give them a glimpse into the magic of animation,” adds Rebecca Smith, VP of Production at House of Cool, “it was a lot of fun to connect with young minds.”

DesignTO Youth is a unique opportunity for both youth and the Toronto design community at large. By actively engaging with youth this collaborative program allows the design community to grow and develop, connecting with new demographics through design.

Join us for the DesignTO Youth: The Skatrix screening at Peter MacKendrick Community Gallery on Tuesday, January 21 from 4pm to 5:30pm.