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By Jerin Alexander

Valley Voices staff writer

Madonna said it best: Express yourself.

"Everyone is creative in their own way; it is just how one expresses it", said Tarri Driver, an art therapist and counselor, who works with high school students in Middle Tennessee. Driver defines creativity as creating or expressing one's self or ideas.

"Teens who are creative can express themselves without talking," she said. "They also use their medium as a mirror to reflect on themselves personally. It also helps to build skills like leadership and communications which are huge advantages for creative teens."

There are many ways teens can express themselves. Here are three of them.

SHELBY GILLESPIE

Shelby Gillespie likes to draw what she feels.

"I was shy, and drawing gave me an outlet to express myself through," said Shelby, a 16-year-old junior at Chattanooga Central High School. She began drawing at age 11.

Drawing has more benefits to Shelby than self-expression alone. In addition to being chosen to design posters for school events, she said she has become a stronger writer and a more analytical thinker.

"It teaches me to break down complicated situations, to make them easier."

DYLAN KNIGHT

"Dancing is a form of freedom," said Dylan Knight, a 16-year-old junior at Sale Creek High School. "No one can hold you back. You're free to express it any way you want."

For Dylan, dancing is the best way to relieve stress and to be happy. He started at the age of 12 watching "How To" videos on the internet for fun.

"Dancing keeps me upbeat and happy. It helps to cheer me up when I am in a bad mood, and it takes off the stress after a day at school."

NATHAN CLARK

Nathan Clark plays the trumpet for the Chattanooga Central High School's marching band.

"The trumpet fits my personality because it stands out in the band," he said.

Nathan, who has been playing for five years, said learning how to play the trumpet gave him a new outlook on music; it taught him to hear all the small components that make up the song.

"That helps in school," he said, "like in science, you see a chemical reaction happen, but you also see all the small chemicals that made it happen."

Jerin Alexander is a student at Tyner High School

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