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Lawton Man Mentors Youth Through Music

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LAWTON Okla_ It wasn't just the mayor offering up solutions for a better Lawton, Oklahoma Wednesday. Some proactive adults with dreams of a brighter future showed up, too.

Lowell Willis said music brought him from a dark place when he was a kid growing up in Lawton. It kept him interested in something other than running the streets. He said rapping became a way to document his thoughts, feelings, and concerns. Willis said the arts saved him, and he wants to pass that on. That's why he started the Association of Creative Achievement.

Willis grew up in Lawton. To stay on the straight and narrow path, he turned to music. His lyrics spoke a message.

"Despite my circumstances, I am forward thinking," Willis said. "I am upward mobile. I aspire to be unique in my career choice."

He knows the creative industry is growing.

"The creative industries, music and arts being a part of that, employs 3.3 million people," Willis said. "That's more than Walmart."

He said he knows that many local students aspire to be a part of it. The empty room in the back of the American Legion on 11th Street transforms a few days a week. It becomes a place for students like Willis' nephew, Quameil, to learn how to record music, write or play instruments.

Quameil said recording helps him make good decisions.

"If you get into trouble, it's hard to get out," Quameil said. "If you're doing music, it's possible you won't get into trouble."

There are dozens more students just like Quameil, striving for something better than a life of crime and using the arts to do it.

"I had a kid that told me that they wanted to be a rapper, and I gave him a dictionary," Willis said. "I told him to go write. If you want to be rapper, take this dictionary and go write me a song from this dictionary. Yeah, he almost lost it."

Willis knows the power of art. He said it saved him. He thinks harvesting a creative desire in a young person will keep them off the streets, and in the classroom.

"It makes them stronger in math," Willis said. "It makes them stronger in science. You have to speak that language. You have to speak to their heart, their creative, their artistic inclination. Once you speak to that, they excel in school."

Lowell Willis will continue to meet with his students in the American Legion building. His hope is that the city can get on board with his organization. He said with their help, and by teaming up with some of the other anti-violence organizations in the community, the students can one day practice their crafts in their own facility.

If you're interested in learning more about the Association for Creative Achievement, email AFCA@gmail.com.

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