All were welcome last Thursday to browse a very important collection of photos at the North Memorial Public Library. This collection was the result of the dedication and hard work of youth from St George’s YouthNet and the Needham Community Centre. They came together to engage in a community based participatory action project, facilitated by a group of medical students at Dalhousie University. Although this team of 8 medical students reached out to initiate the project, George’s YouthNet and the Needham Community Centre were the key drivers and youth leaders were involved in each project session.
The project ran from Spring to Fall of 2014. The objective was to provide youth with a creative and safe means of self expression in order to explore what a healthy community meant to them. Dalhousie’s medical students were eager to take their education outside the classroom and engage with and learn from youth in the community. As the team put it, “We felt that the youth perspective is often unheard especially with regards to issues that affect them.”
We felt that the youth perspective is often unheard especially with regards to issues that affect them.
This is how the PhotoVoice team of medical students described their role in the project:
Our role as facilitators was to ask the youth important questions about their lived experiences within the context of the community they reside. After engaging youth with some critical questions, we then asked the youth to take pictures of elements in their community that affected their lived experience. The youth then explained why they took certain photos and what some of the issues they were trying to convey through the photos were. At this time, youth also discussed how the photos meant different things to them and how their perspectives about issues affecting their community paralleled or differed. It was an opportunity for some of the participants to also share aspects of the history and events that occurred in their community, linking past municipal and provincial choices to their current situation.
The goal of photoVoice is to promote action. It is hoped that the youths’ ideas and thoughtful work, once made available for the community to see in this way, will spark interesting discussion among community members about what actions the community would like to take based on some of the narratives and photographs from the youth.
To learn more about PhotoVoice please visit their website.