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  • Writer's pictureBGC Metro Baltimore

Photovoice Engages Youth and Police in Conversation

Updated: Jul 28, 2021

Members of our Brooklyn O’Malley Club hosted a gallery walk on June 9, 2021, to culminate their participation in the inaugural session of our nine-week Photovoice program, which uses photography as a catalyst to improve relationships between adolescents and law enforcement.

For some Club members discussing police and community, let alone speaking with law enforcement, may be difficult and even traumatic. Photovoice engages young people in conversations about their experiences with and perceptions of law enforcement in a safe environment that honors and makes space for communities with deep history of trauma. Along the way, young people learn the basics of photography and practice using the art form as a means of self-expression.

“Through Photovoice, young people use photos to find words that perhaps they didn’t have before,”

explained Dana Benjamin-Allen who designed the Photovoice curriculum for the Maryland Alliance of Boys & Girls Clubs.

Throughout the program, young people remain in control of how much and what they share, how they want others to see and understand their perspective and how they choose to convey their message thereby empowering them as leaders with agency over their relationships with law enforcement. “In the course of nine weeks, I witnessed our young people make great strides in their self-confidence,” remarked Tianda Hendricks, Club Manager of our Brooklyn O’Malley Club.

Member feedback from the spring pilot will inform revisions to the Photovoice curriculum before it’s rolled out to additional Clubs this fall in hopes of empowering more young people like Savannah, 12, who, when asked to reflect on what she’ll take away from the program said, “Children can change the community.”

Photovoice is a participatory research method introduced by Caroline Want and Mary Anne Burris in 1997 wherein people “identify, represent and enhance their community through a specific photographic technique." The Photovoice program was created by Back of the Napkin Consulting LLC, with funding from The Governor's Office of Crime Prevention, Youth & Victim Services under sub-award number BJAG-2019-0004.

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