Through the eyes of a teen…...
Five members of the El Dorado High School eXtreme Youth Program (formerly known as PRIDE) team participated in a PhotoVoice project with Arkansas Children’s Hospital this school year and recently presented the results to the community.
This project targeted four framing questions about life with a focus on health and community improvements.
- What is your life like?
- What is good about your life?
- What needs to be changed?
- What improvements have been made to the community?
The project encouraged students to express themselves through photography by capturing images to answer the questions they were given. They worked in phases throughout the year to explore their community and address each question.
After each phase of picture taking the students would get together to view the pictures and share why the ones they took were meaningful to them. Although each participant chose their two favorites, the group decided collectively which pictures to present to the community and wrote a short narrative describing them.
For the first question, pictures of a smoke-free park and new play scape were featured alongside a picture of a chained up dog. Students expressed that although there are safe and fun places for families to hangout, some families and animals are still living in substandard conditions.
In response to question two the students saw hope in the community for better mental and emotional health and hope for dreams for the future in a picture of a flag flying in front of the Salvation Army. The El Dorado Promise, which pro-vides graduates of El Dorado High School with scholarships, was conveyed in a picture of Murphy Oil Corporation.
As for what needs to be changed, students exhibited pictures of vandalism and dilapidated and unsafe buildings that undermine the city’s beauty. They feel that carelessness, neglect, and overgrowth lead to dangerous areas for youth and unsuspecting people and that youth need to be taught respect for their community.
Improvements to the community included pictures of a new road with a promised sidewalk that will lead to a planned walking path; a resurfaced, well-lit track that is open to public for exercise; school playgrounds with fun equipment that promotes exercise and health for children; walking paths at all elementary schools that the public can use, and safe city parks with new playground equipment.
While five groups took on the challenge statewide, the El Dorado team was the only one to finish it. Participants received a stipend while working on the project and a gift card upon completion. El Dorado students taking part were in the 8th, 11th, and 12th grades. The seniors even came back after school was out to finish the assignment and honor their commitment.