Interview with Creative Kids Champion: Thelma Pepper
Photographer and Saskatchewan Order of Merit recipient, Thelma Pepper, is a testament that you can start exploring your creative side at any age. Thelma, who didn’t start her artistic endeavours until she turned 60 years old, is a big believer that anyone at any age can discover their creative spark. She is a big champion of Creative Kids and how creativity — whether it’s photography, painting, or books — can ignite the imagination of a young person.
What is most important about creativity?
Children’s books are so important. It’s important to start off early with good books. Reading habits ready the mind to be creative. This needs to happen before kids are 12. Before they are teenagers. And not just any books, the best books. Saskatchewan has wonderful children’s book authors, like Sara O’Leary. Her books are wonderful.
How has art changed your life?
After my kids had grown, I started reading to seniors. Ones that could barely speak would light up when I would read stories about homesteads and pioneer days. And they would get so excited to tell me their stories. I would listen, and I was amazed at what these women went through. I could see a spark in them. I knew there was something that kept them going.
What do you think kept them going?
Their lives were very difficult. The climate, isolated on a farm, trying to keep their husbands happy and their kids cared for, having almost no resources or help around. I truly believe there is a spark in every person – they just have to find it. And they find it through being creative. You find your spark and your voice by using your hands, your voice and your words.
Is that how you discovered photography? By searching for what your spark is?
I knew I was a good printer. My grandfather and my father were both photographers, and I would help them in the dark room. Once my kids left home, I joined the photo gallery club, remembering how much I liked working with photographs. It was just me and all these young people in this club! But they seemed to really like what I was doing, so I just kept doing it.
How do you think we should support kids finding their own spark through creativity?
The schools can play a big role in that, but I think they are missing their chance sometimes. They want kids to do so much reading, writing and arithmetic, so that’s what they focus on. But I wish they would realize that the way to get kids good at reading, writing and arithmetic, is by teaching them art. Art makes you feel good about yourself. That’s what it did for me, anyway.
What do you want the other Creative Kids supporters, partners and donors to know?
Your job is to find your passion and what it does for you. Everyone has one, and you discover it through creativity. So go create something and go find it. Also, read to kids as often as you can. Books are so important and you need to introduce them to kids when they are preschoolers. And lastly, that art makes you believe in yourself. That is so important.