Innovating, Inspiring, Impacting
Savanna-la-Mar, Westmoreland: Twenty seven young people between the ages of 10 and 19 in Savanna-la-Mar are now equipped to use the art of photography to advocate for positive transformation in four underserved communities within the Westmoreland parish capital.
The participants in the Savanna-la-Mar Resolution Project implemented by the Jamaica National Building Society Foundation, were provided digital cameras and trained in photography, photojournalism and human rights advocacy, as part of a week-long day camp during the Easter break between April 10 and 14.
The project was held at the JNBS-created and newly completed community resource centre, The Source, on Barracks Road, and culminated in a community exhibition of more than 60 photographs.
Virginia Turner, Project Manager for Rural Development with the JNBS Foundation explained that in an effort to strengthen community youth activism, participants for the Savanna-la-Mar project were selected from the underserved communities of Barracks Road/Gully Bank, Seaton Crescent, Grotto and Russia, in consultation with the Social Development Commission (SDC) and community leaders.
“This is the third community component of the larger Resolution Project high school advocacy through photography competition programme, which has been implemented by the JNBS Foundation across rural Jamaica on an annual basis since 2004. Major partners in the project are the United Nations Population Fund and The Gleaner’s Youthlink Magazine,” Ms. Turner advised.
She added that similar to the high school project, the community component offers a creative avenue through which young people can express and give voice to their concerns.
“The Resolution Project challenges youngsters to critically examine the issues affecting their respective communities; and facilitates the use of photography, as a tool for young people to tell intricate and nuanced stories of places, and people who might otherwise have been invisible,” she said.
“Through the images, critical stakeholders and the wider public are able to visualize the issues as seen through the eyes of the children and the other residents who experience them,” Ms. Turner added.
In Their Own Words
In addition to the training, the teens and pree-teens kept daily journals and wrote short photo essays about positive and negative views of their communities.
The eldest participant in the project, 19 year-old Antoinette Campbell of Barracks Road, expressed that Resolution Project empowers young people to play their part in finding solutions to issues of concern in Savanna-la-Mar. These include: poverty, crime, poor drainage system, as well as dilapidated roads and infrastructure. They also captured issues related to teenage pregnancy, low self-esteem, pollution and drug use.
“We now understand that photography helps us to speak up on how we feel about what we see. We are going to start the Savanna-la-Mar Resolution Project Camera Club and meet monthly here at The Source, to discuss topics and to go out and take pictures,” Ms. Campbell said.
Alicia Glasgow, Arts and Media Officer of the JNBS Foundation with responsibility for the Resolution Project suggests that the community camps have had a significant impact on how participants see themselves and their roles as agents of change in their communities.
She referenced “transformative results” in the pilot community camp held during August 2010. That project was a collaborative effort with the Chichibud Foundation, following the joint military and police incursion Tivoli Gardens, West Kingston. The Resolution Project was again replicated in the volatile community of Granville, St. James during August 2011, and has since “raised the bar for youth photographs submitted to the project,” she says.
Savanna-la-Mar was selected to benefit from the project because of Jamaica National’s ongoing commitment to the parish in which it first established, as the Westmoreland Building Society in 1874.
“Jamaica National’s long history is rooted in Westmoreland,” Ms. Glasgow explained, “and, therefore, the JNBS Foundation sought to further engage young residents in identifying, articulating and addressing some of the advocacy issues identified by the youth in Savanna-la-Mar.”
She also noted that select photographs from the Savanna-la-Mar Resolution Project will form part of Resolution Project exhibitions across the island during the year, including a permanent exhibition at the Norman Manley International Airport in Kingston. The JNBS Foundation will also be using its social media channels to publicise the participants’ work, with the aim of engendering positive responses from stakeholders in Jamaica and overseas, and garnering increased support for the project.
The Resolution Project, formerly called “Youth Zoom,” was conceptualized in 2004 by Earl Jarrett, JNBS’ General Manager and Chairman of the JNBS Foundation.