GALT — So, what is it like to be a teenager?

It is a leaf piled with droplets of fresh rain, so heavy it should break its stem, but it doesn’t.

It is a stopwatch dotted with eyes, always watching you, and a skateboarder in mid jump sporting tattered Converse tennis shoes.

These are part of the “What it’s Like to be a Teenager” art exhibit which will shine a local light on the lives of youths Friday.

The community is invited to view more than 100 pieces of teen art expressing their lives followed by hearing from nationally acclaimed speaker and youth motivator Michael Pritchard. He will integrate local artwork into his talk on the need for compassion; compassion leads to happiness, happiness leads to confidence, and confident children, teenagers and adults result in amazing schools and communities, according to hs message.

Developed by the Galt Youth Commission, this exhibit provides youth an opportunity to give a voice to their daily challenges. It includes two-dimensional art, masks, photography and poetry submissions, as well as interactive wall art displays.

“I was taken aback by my initial review of the art,” adult commissioner and mentor John Gordon said. “The story behind many submissions are simply powerful.”

The commission has committed hundreds of hours to this project, public speaking events, addressing classrooms, writing letters, requesting sponsors, securing grants and contracting Pritchard.

“This is absolutely a youth-driven event,” said adult commissioner and mentor Leesa Klotz. “Each has brought their creativity and learned a great deal about the work behind the scenes.”

The original concept has evolved, which will make this event even more dynamic, according to Gordon. “Through Instagram, teens are sending selfies of their life that will be added to the exhibit.”

The group is also looking at an interactive real time display the day of the event.

Youth commissioner Juliet Rodriguez was unsure of what to expect when the effort first began, since this is the first time that the commission has done an art exhibit.

“As soon as the GYC approved the art exhibit, I was so ardent that I began planning ideas for my art submission,” she said. “As an artist, I feel that art is one of the most important outlets for expression, whether it is painting, drawing, music, poetry, sculpture, or any art.”

But one of her favorite parts about preparing for the exhibit was having the opportunity to invite other artists and community members, and getting to meet some new people.

“This is truly an event created by the youth, for the youth,” Rodriguez said. “My goal for this event is to build a bridge between the gap in communication between the youth and the adults in the community. Many students have difficulty voicing their issues or opinions to adults, because they don’t know what they should and shouldn’t say.”

Fellow commissioner Kirsten Miller also thinks this is a great opportunity to show the adults in the community what the teenagers are thinking and how their lives are going.

“I also feel that this is a great way for teens to communicate their feelings with adults and be heard,” she said.

“I hope that through this event, the teens can better communicate with the adults and other teens to bring change to our community.”

The Galt Youth Commission is comprised of 10 high school students appointed by the Galt City Council to serve as youth advocates and champion community service.

In the end, Klotz appreciates the administration and teachers of the local schools. Without their encouragement, this project would not have been as candid in its expression and complete in participation, she sad.

“As the artwork began to come in, we were blown away by the thoughtfulness of the work. Each had a story that captured the core message we had hoped for; glimpses of what those quixotic and mercurial of beings are thinking,” she said, adding that she found it interesting that when the youth begin developing this event, they were met with adults wary of allowing teenagers complete freedom of expression.

“In reviewing all the artwork submitted, not one of the piece included subject matter that was questionable, irrelevant or tasteless. The time and care to express true feelings is amazing. This result genuinely speaks to the success of our community’s support and commitment to its youth. Galt is a great place to make that transition from childhood to adult.”

This event is free and will be held from 6 to 8:30 p.m. Friday at the Galt Littleton Center, 410 Civic Drive, in Galt.

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