Tuesday, September 01, 2015

Local Teen Creates Characters for Library Activity Book

BPL Board President Kim Richardson (far right) congratulates Jaylen, his
parents Rachel and Brad Allen, and his sister Kennedy Allen. 

Libraries are great places to check out reading material, to learn a new skill, and to share your talent as a volunteer. This is the experience 16-year-old Jaylen Callins took away from his summer volunteer project at the Birmingham Public Library (BPL) system’s Central Library.

Jaylen Callins poses with library staff (left to right) Lance Simpson, Karyn 
Davis-West, and Cheryl Burgess.

When Jaylen asked for the opportunity to use his drawing skills, staff quickly put their heads together. Working with guidance from staff in the Central Library’s Youth Department, the team asked Jaylen to create new characters to teach children about positive library experiences. Jaylen quickly got to work and what he produced were lively characters embarking on a visit to the local library. With Jaylen’s new creation, Oscar the Octopus set off on his library journey. Copies of the activity book are free and available at all 19 locations of the Birmingham Public Library.

Birmingham Mayor William Bell recognized Jaylen at the 
city council meeting on Tuesday, July 14, 2015, for his work
on Oscar the Octopus. The artist presented a hand drawn 
likeness of the mayor to him for his office.

Jaylen Callins is 16-years-old and attends Clay-Chalkville High School and The Jefferson County School of Visual Art—Shades Valley Technical Academies (dual-enrollment). He has won several art awards throughout the years and is currently part of Teen BMA (Birmingham Museum of Art). Jaylen has hundreds of volunteer hours recorded for his work on this project at the Central Library, for his work at the Springville Road Regional Branch Library where pieces of his art have been displayed, and at several other organizations throughout Jefferson County. He was the winner of the City of Birmingham’s Division of Youth Services logo design for the 2014 Smart Art Festival and a finalist for the 2015 Congresswoman Terri Sewell’s 7th District Congressional Art Competition.

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