The program expanded the use of AjA’s effective participatory photography tool by running an arts-based programming during the school day, and diversified participants by including at-risk teens in San Diego’s low-income communities. The success of the pilot provided a platform for AjA to champion the use of using visual arts during the school day to teach traditional educational standards. Visual arts-based programming helps youth build cultural literacy and discuss social tension in a non-threatening manner, in a way that encourages reflective thinking and understanding about oneself and others. It also helps students to embrace art as a powerful tool for creating change in their communities.
The Institute for Public Health – The AjA Project worked with the East African community of City Heights to address growing concerns around access to healthy foods and food-related social behaviors.
The California Endowment – As part of the Building Healthy Communities Initiative, The AjA Project worked with the Youth Momentum team to document the planning process, and to investigate the problems facing their communities.
Speak City Heights – Speak City Heights is a media collaborative between The AjA Project, KPBS, voiceofsandiego.org, and Media Arts Center San Diego, aimed at amplifying the voices of City Heights residents. AjA runs photography-based programs with teens from Crawford High School, using its participatory approach, to help participants generate photographs and narratives that will guide media partners in creating news stories relevant to City Heights community members.
Face to Face Campaign –The Mid-City CAN is a community collaborative whose mission is to create a safe, productive and healthy community through partnership, advocacy and organizing. Residents and agency members participate in action committees to address community concerns and develop joint strategies for action. The Access to Health Care momentum team works to address the issue of quality of health care by advocating for higher standards for Medical Interpretation and by calling for in-person interpretation services.
To help give voice to some of the stories of the Access to Health Care momentum team members, Mid-City CAN worked in collaboration with The AjA Project, a visual-arts organization that uses photography-based educational programs to transform the lives of its participants, by providing the tools and training to use visual arts as a method of personal and social change. For this project, AjA ran PhotoCity, a program that teaches participants to turn their camera lens outward and critically examine community issues that affect their daily lives.
For more information or to discuss a potential collaborative partnership, please contact us.
Record of Truth (RoT), a photography program, based on one of several Karen refugee camps along the border of Thailand, features a unique curriculum that utilizes photographic expression to encourage students to analyze their environment, document their lives and begin to preserve their oral and cultural traditions through visual documentation. These intimate testimonials reveal the daily realities of the Karen refugees and create an important archive during a time of instability and danger of losing their culture due to the high volume of resettlement.
In 2009, San Diego became home to many resettled Karen refugees. The AjA Project now works to connect Karen youth in San Diego with those living on the camps in order to provide a sense of connection and cultural continuity. In addition, Karen students in San Diego create photo documentaries that help youth in the camps learn what life in America might be like upon resettlement.
DISPARANDO CÀMARAS PARA LA PAZ
(Shooting Cameras for Peace)
Colombia’s expanding civil war and deepening economic crisis has forced over 2 million Colombians to flee their homes, only to find more poverty and violence in the communities where they settle.
Disparando Cámaras para la Paz (DCP) – Shooting Cameras for Peace – is a participatory photography program for internally displaced youth at the communally-administered elementary school, Corporación Fe y Esperanza in El Progreso, Colombia. DCP instructors provide young people the opportunity to build self-confidence and self-awareness by looking critically at the social issues affecting their lives and their communities. The young documentarians are guided by a staff of Colombian photographers and educators through a series of intensive seminars incorporating photography, spoken narratives, and writing. The resulting collection of photographs and stories form a compelling testimonial of Colombia’s ongoing civil war and its effect on the country’s young people. At the same time it encourages the young participants to be protagonists rather than victims in their own lives.
DCP is now an independent Colombian nonprofit, and provides educational programs in partnership with The AjA Project’s international network. It is part of AjA’s philosophy that our international programs be locally staffed and operated.
THE ZNYMKA PROJECT
The Znymka Project is an international initiative of The AjA Project. Similar in scope to The AjA Project’s programming, The Znymka Project utilizes participatory photography methods to develop leadership skills in youth and encourages them to lead change within their communities.
Based in L’viv, Ukraine, The Znymka Project will provide marginalized and orphaned youth with a safe environment to build English language acquisition skills, develop career and educational opportunities, create original artwork and improve behavioral and physical health.
In addition to educating and empowering participants, The Znymka Project will partner with Ukrainian-based organizations to organize public exhibits of student work to validate participants’ experiences and to educate the broader community about the social climate affecting orphaned youth in Ukraine.
“Znymka” is the translation of “photograph” in Ukrainian.