Children taking photographs at Wings of Fancy

‘PhotoKids’ Exhibit (Video)

The Arts and Humanities Council of Montgomery County (AHCMC) announces the opening of “PhotoKids 2012,” a new exhibition held at the Executive Office Building Lobby, 101 Monroe Street, Rockville, MD 20852. The opening reception will be Friday, October 19, 2012 6:00 – 7:30PM in the Lobby. The public is invited to see the exhibition between Friday, October 19 and Friday, November 30, 2012.

PhotoKids is a summer program combining hands-on science with photography for middle-school students living in local public housing communities. “Children living in economically-depressed situations are all too often prevented from flourishing and succeeding in life by both what is lacking in their environment, and the dangers abundant in that environment,” says AHCMC Deputy Director, Shellie Williams, who oversaw the program. “PhotoKids seeks to combat these challenges by providing youngsters with a safe haven and caring mentor during unsupervised hours when students might engage in risky behaviors; introducing children to digital photography and computer manipulation—skills they can use at school now and later in life; and, exposing children to the natural world through hands-on science.”

The ten students live in a housing community in Rockville and attend area middle schools. They had no photography skill or even interest when they began the program, but working with environmental artist and photographer, Joanne Miller, changed their attitudes about art, nature, and one another. Miller and program manager Shelley Johnson took the students on field trips to learn about ecosystems and the plants and animals that inhabit them. They ranged far and wide, from the National Zoo to Butler’s Orchard, to Brookside Garden, Great Falls and the woods in their own backyard.

“Photography offers kids a creative opportunity to experience the wonder of nature through the eye of a camera,” says Joanne Miller. “As they master new skills and discover the simple beauty of the outdoor world, a change takes place in their art and personal expression.”

For this program, Miller provides each student with a digital camera. The students learned the art and mechanics of taking photographs, while simultaneously learning about nature, environmental science and using language arts skills to analyze and communicate about their art works. Over the five-week program, Miller and Johnson observed subtle changes in the students.

“When the program began,” says Shelley Johnson, “the students knew one another but weren’t friends. Over the five weeks, they bonded and learned valuable lessons about collaboration, team work, and friendship. By the time the children returned to school in August, they had developed greater self-confidence, new friends, and a keener interest in nature and science.”

PhotoKids was made possible by generous donations from individuals in the Montgomery County Charity Campaign, Montgomery County government and the Community Services Foundation.

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