By Jamie Ogrodnik - September 12, 2014
Josephine Herrick Project is a volunteer service organization, providing free photography programs to underserved audiences. JHP believes that cameras are transformational tools that give a voice to all people and strengthens visual literacy. In February of 2014, JHProject teamed up with Step Up youth participants in a local community assignment using photography.
Step Up is a project of the McSilver Institute for Poverty Policy and Research located within NYU’s Silver School of Social Work. Designed as a youth development and mental health program, Step Up was created by and for high school students. Together they all work towards the goal of promoting social and emotional development, academic achievement, “on time” high school graduation, and a positive transition to young adulthood. Components of Step Up could include youth life skills groups, one on one mentoring, academic supports and internships, and family level engagement.
This past February we had the privilege of working with Step UP. JHP’s volunteer professional photographers, Virgina Franklin, Nousha Salimi, and Rick Gerrity, helped students to learn about photography and how to use the power of images to tell stories about their communities. The first part of the assignment had the students meet to discuss what defines a community. This allowed for the children to identify the community they felt a special connection with and then speak about the strengths and challenges that could occur within these communities.
After that, students used their “photovoice” by using the camera to capture the previously addressed issues in their communities. Once behind the camera, students observed life in their communities through a new vantage point helping them with not only communal issues but with sparking creative juices that could eventually lead to self-betterment and the strengthening of their visual literacy.
A photo book was created capturing their experiences. Above are actual pages from the book.
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