Civic Center Library to house photo gallery from at-risk youth

After an opening gala, Scottsdale Civic Center Library will host a gallery of 60 photos, which at-risk youth took. Local photographers assisted the youth in taking those photos. (Photo courtesy of Karen Shell)

Thirty at-risk youth took 60 photographs — as part of an eight-week Kids in Focus mentoring program — that will be unveiled at the opening reception Friday, March 29 at the Arizona Center, 455 N. Third St. in downtown Phoenix.

The Exhibit Opening Gala will run from 5:30-7:30 p.m. The event is free and open to the public.

After the Opening Night Gala, the exhibit will move to the Scottsdale Civic Center Library, 3839 N. Drinkwater Blvd., and be on display for viewing March 30through May 2019.

Seventeen local photographers mentored the participating kids, using the safe aperture of the camera to help them gain a new perspective on themselves and their surroundings, according to a press release.

Kids were given a point-and-shoot digital camera to use and keep. The kids visually logged and documented their experiences on various field trips with their mentors, in addition to recording encounters of their daily lives on their own time, inspired by the program.

The group for the 2019 exhibit consists of students at Children First Leadership Academy and Boys and Girls Club I.G. Homes Branch. All participants are considered at-risk and living at or below poverty line; most experienced neglect, abuse and homelessness, a release states.

Kids in Focus founder and professional photographer Karen Shell has dedicated her time to empowering at-risk youth to see beyond their circumstances.

“The kids learn to see the world differently, changing their perspectives about themselves and their environment,” Ms. Shell said in a prepared statement. “Kids in Focus is helping these youngsters build the self-esteem and awareness they need to overcome the challenges they face.”

The 2019 exhibit features each student’s photographic work with accompanying captions in their own words and individual biography.

Hard-bound gallery/coffee table books featuring the work will be presented to the students at the exhibit’s Opening Gala and are also for sale to the public. During the event donations are accepted and information on the Kids in Focus program is available.

Participating volunteer mentor-photographers are: Garrett Cook, Tim Correa, Jason Grubb, Scott Hays, Chris Henderson, Claudia Johnstone, Colleen Katz, Bryan Kinkade, Samantha Lloyd, Chrissa Michelle, Nils Nilsen, Michael Norton, Keith Pitts, Karen Shell, Laurie Stephens, Karla Yazuri.

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