EDMOND — Timmy Williams called himself a free and wild spirit when at 14 he and his buddy stole an Xbox controller from Walmart.
“It was very dumb,” said Williams, a 19-year-old University of Central Oklahoma student. “I don't condone stealing. I'm glad I got arrested.”
Williams' love for art and his artwork are a result of the community service sentence he received in Edmond's Juvenile Court. He was ordered to attend art classes and yoga instead of scrubbing a restroom or picking up trash.
Juvenile court officials said they try to think outside the box to make a positive impact on young people who find themselves on the wrong side of the law.
Art lessons at the Edmond Fine Arts Institute are one of the ways young offenders can complete court-ordered community service.
“It is an awesome program,” Williams said. “It was pure positive reinforcement.”
Williams is a sophomore at UCO with a major in psychology and a minor in art. He hopes to be an art therapist.
His first piece of artwork was a pastel of a man on a mountain fishing for a star. There have been many more pieces since.
“I had never touched a piece of chalk,” Williams said.
Local artist Gary Lennon, a Fine Arts Institute teacher, instructs the young offenders in his class “Your Creative Side.” He has been involved in the program since it started.
Lennon said he was taken aback when he was asked to allow juvenile offenders to attend his art classes.
“I said, ‘Oh my gosh, are you kidding me?'” Lennon said. “That is probably the same thing they were thinking.
“Generally, these kids are basically good kids. What a wonderful, positive take on community service. Putting them in a uniform and sending them to pick up trash is not as positive.”
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