Photo exhibit by at-risk kids opens at Burton Barr Library

Fifty photographs taken by 23 at-risk and homeless youth during an eight-week Kids in Focus program will be unveiled at the opening of a free exhibit at the Burton Barr Central Library, 1221 N. Central Ave. on March 4 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.

A photograph by Domenique.

A photograph by Domenique.

Given a point-and-shoot digital camera to use and keep, the kids were mentored by 11 professional photographers over eight weeks, including both classroom lessons and photo shoots at a variety of locations around Phoenix.

Many of the featured images were actually taken by students on their own time as the program inspired them to search for interest and beauty in their daily lives.

“The project empowers and equips the kids to shift from surviving to thriving ” said Kids in Focus Founder and Executive Director Karen Shell.  She is dedicated 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. Kids in Focus helps them build the self-esteem and awareness they need to overcome the challenges they face.”

The exhibit featuring student biographies, their photos, and the accompanying captions they wrote will be on display at the library through April 30.

Hard-bound gallery books featuring their work will be presented to the students at the exhibit’s opening reception March 4. Select images from this exhibit will also be displayed at the Children’s Museum of Phoenix, 215 N. 7th St., in May and June.

Participating mentor-photographers are Shell, Tomas Andreas, Jason Grubb, Christine Johnson, Claudia Johnstone, David Moore, Michael Norton, Zee Peralta, Keith Pitts, Geoff Reed and Jill Richards.

Kids in Focus is a Phoenix based nonprofit organization that develops, designs, and implements mentor-driven programs that inspire hope and foster positive outcomes in children ages 10-14 who come from backgrounds of poverty, homelessness, neglect and abuse.

Founded in 2012 by professional photographer Karen Shell, the Kids in Focus program with Children First Academy is in its fourth year and the company has plans to expand within and beyond Arizona starting in fall of 2016.

Children First Academy is a Phoenix school serving 300 students, grades K-8 dedicated to engaging them as critical thinkers, problem solvers, and active citizens.

One hundred percent of the students and their families are at the poverty line and a vast majority of them are homeless. The school delivers stability and hope for kids amid a chaotic world of homelessness and hopelessness, providing the necessities, care and attention that so many homeless and low socioeconomic children lack.

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