Seattle: Youth in Focus
By Paul Butzi
A few years ago, I was strolling through the convention center in downtown Seattle, and I was dragged to a stop by a display of great photos of the daily life of kids who lived in inner-city Seattle. That show was done by kids as part of the Youth in Focus (YIF) program here in Seattle. Youth in Focus puts cameras into the hands of disadvantaged kids, teaches them how to use the camera and how to print, and then has the kids make photographs. As they put it, the kids “experience their world in new ways and make positive changes in their lives.”
YIF seems to be patterned after "Shooting Back," a program founded by Jim Hubbard to work with homeless kids. I could find two books about Shooting Back. There’s the original, and there’s Shooting Back from the Reservation, which is done by Native American kids. I know I’ve seen a video on PBS about the latter, too, although I can’t find a reference to it. Hubbard is now the executive director at Venice Arts, and there’s an online gallery of student work from that program.
Beyond the fact that these seem to be worthwhile organizations that deserve support from the photo community, what amazes me is how good the photographs the kids produce are. Youth in Focus do regular exhibits, and the ones I’ve gone to see have been amazing photography.
Hubbard started Shooting Back in 1989, so it seems likely that there are now similar programs in other cities. They can be frustratingly hard to find, though. If you know of one, perhaps you could post a comment and make it easier for folks to find and support this great idea.
Posted by PAUL BUTZI