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posted: 2/20/2014 5:30 AM

Library workshops focus on nurturing creativity in teens

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  • Dawn Pennacchia, a graphic artist for Palatine Public Library, created several workshops for teens that encourage creativity and explore design as a career.

       Dawn Pennacchia, a graphic artist for Palatine Public Library, created several workshops for teens that encourage creativity and explore design as a career.
    Bob Chwedyk | Staff Photographer

  • Duct tape gets put to good use in the creation of a nail polish mat in one of Dawn Pennacchia's library workshops.

       Duct tape gets put to good use in the creation of a nail polish mat in one of Dawn Pennacchia's library workshops.
    Bob Chwedyk | Staff Photographer

  • Dawn Pennacchia teaches workshop participants how to create mini bedrooms and nail polish mats.

       Dawn Pennacchia teaches workshop participants how to create mini bedrooms and nail polish mats.
    photos by Bob Chwedyk | Staff Photographer

 
By Lisa Jones Townsel

Dawn Pennacchia is always bursting with creative energy. So it is no surprise that while she worked as a graphic artist at the Palatine Public Library, creating posters, brochures and displays that she was also busy thinking about new ways to attract teens to book land.

It didn't take long for this mother of two and now-owner of her own design company (Ideahappy.com) to come up with workshop ideas that married her love for design with her passion for attracting youth to the libraries. Her dream became a reality this spring, when she launched two innovative workshops for youth.

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One is the Nail Polish Mat workshop, where young participants create a duct tape mat that holds nail polish bottles and leaves room to place your hands to apply the polish. Another, called Rock Your Room workshop, lets teens redesign their bedrooms by creating miniature furnishings that can be moved around in a small-scale version of their room.

With each workshop, Pennacchia also introduces a new field of study, such as interior design or packaging design, and then ultimately present students with new options for possible career choices.

"My big goal is for them to be creative and use their creativity on a continuous basis to find a career in design," she says. "I provide them with a lot of resources, and tell them about how much they might make and the skill set needed for a particular career. And with each workshop, I send them home with a list of book resources. It's a great way to introduce them to nonfiction books."

The workshops, which are geared toward both male and female youths, last about a 1 hours at select libraries, and the workshops include all materials and tools.

Pennacchia's bedroom design workshop also incorporates STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) programming, to highlight the need for architectural and engineering skills in interior design work.

"In this workshop, they create the scaled-down furniture," she explains. "We talk about color theory and bedroom design in general. They don't walk away with a finished mini bedroom, but I introduce them to a career in interior design."

Pennacchia is the mother of an 11-year-old boy and 13-year-old daughter. They both inspire her workshops. It was her son who used the elements of the room design workshop first, and her daughter that inspired the nail polish one. And already, Pennacchia is hard at work on a third workshop idea. "I just love encouraging boys and girls," she says.

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