FOCUS ON JUSTICE
EMPOWERING YOUTH WITH PHOTOGRAPHY
KIDS Global Network, Inc. intends to empower the Evanston community by collaborating with Evanston Public Library (EPL), Chute Middle School (CMS), Youth & Opportunity United (Y.O.U.), and Evanston Township High School (ETHS) to give middle school and high school students a chance to express themselves through photography.
We seek to address the lack of access to curricular and extracurricular opportunities in the arts for latino and black youth to develop social justice, photography, and self-identity skills. The project aims to address opportunities in building self-confidence and grit, an awareness of social justice issues, and an appreciation for the arts.
Beyond specific school curriculums and paid summer arts camps, few opportunities exist to engage latino and black youth in photography in Evanston. Furthermore, these programs often focus on the technical aspects of photography. Our project not only aims to address this need, but also fill a gap in social justice education. We are unaware of any other program that currently engages our black and latino youth in social justice education through photography, free of cost.
In a world where the predominance of visual media is on the rise, teaching young people to use visuals to express themselves will better equip them with the power to both understand and communicate with others in the future. By giving students access to these tools and to the space for important conversations will further educate the Evanston community about current issues and how to respond to them. We hope that these students will gain confidence in their abilities and their voices.
THE PHOTOVOICE CURRICULUM
PhotoVoice is an internationally recognized participatory photography method in which the participants use cameras to document their lives and share their experience. We piloted a PhotoVoice program, in the fall of 2017, in partnership with EPL and the ETHS Students Without Borders Club and it was well received. Five students participated in a six week project based on immigration and self identity. It culminated in a reception and month long exhibition at the Evanston Public Library. Members of the Evanston community learned about participant experiences through this process.
BIG PICTURES, BIG VOICES
The pilot of this program took place at Chute Middle School between April 9 and May 18, 2018. KIDS worked with Sherri Kushner's Advanced Media Arts class to produce a social justice themed PhotoVoice project. The students worked individually and in groups to produce images for the final showcase. Every Monday, students were given photo assignments that will be due that Friday, each with a different theme, in hopes that they will find the image they want to use for their final project. Along the way, the students used a combination of point-and-shoot cameras, cell phones and DSLRs to take photos. They also wrote storytelling captions and delve deeper into the realm of raising awareness to social justice issues through photography.
The final exhibit was featured in the Evanston Public Library's teen loft.
ALL VOICES MATTER
In Fall 2018, KIDS returned to Chute for the second round of Focus on Justice with Sherri Kushner’s eighth grade media students. We originally planned to have students take portraits and use software to draw on them, but it quickly became clear that social justice issues were going to take over the narratives once again. Ann and professional photographer Yancey Hughes joined the class every Tuesday and Friday to teach lessons, start discussions about difficult topics and edit photos and captions.
“All Voices Matter” was displayed in at the Evanston Public Library.
WHY FOCUS ON SOCIAL JUSTICE?
By addressing social justice issues through the arts, we invite youth to leverage their lived-experiences as students of color to engage, record, and reflect on issues affecting them and their communities. This narrative photography project creates an outlet to address issues such as wealth disparity, immigration, racism, gender and equality issues, reform of the criminal justice system, and gun violence. This aligns with our vision to enrich and improve the lives of disadvantaged children, while raising awareness of their needs.
KIDS also partnered with Youth & Opportunity United (Y.O.U.) to run a six week summer PhotoVoice program from June 18 to July 30. Y.O.U. is a local youth development agency that serves 1600 young people and their families per year. Y.O.U.'s goals are to advance youth success, build youth resilience and catalyze parent networks. Participants learned camera basics and some visual literacy techniques, but focused more on the storytelling and expressive aspects of photography. KGN's Ann Covode, Chute media teacher Sherri Kushner and professional photographer Yancey Hughes were present to instruct the students and facilitate difficult discussions about struggle, lived experience and justice. This curriculum focused on personal struggles and issue advocacy. However, the students took the project in a direction more similar to that of Exceptional Voices, and focused on their identities.
“Capture Summer” was on display at Evanston Public Library from August 9th to 30th on the second floor landing.