PATERSON, NJ - They say a picture is worth a thousand words. For eight-year-old Richard, a participant in the Paterson Youth Photography Project (PYPP), it’s also worth $50.
Richard was one of 22 Paterson youth that participated in the PYPP exhibition on Thursday, the culmination of a ten week program hosted twice yearly by Oasis-A Haven for Women and Children designed to “enrich the lives of school age children by introducing them to photography as a means of self-expression.”
For Richard, the joy of the Saturday classes and chance to take pictures around his city is much simpler, it’s an opportunity, he said, “to take pictures and make friends.”
The surprise purchase of his photo of the Great Falls by City Council President Maritza Davila reflected her support, she told TAPinto Paterson, of anything that “brings out the creativity of children.”
Reflecting on programs that she participated in and benefitted from as a young child raised with three siblings by a single mother, Davila referred to the full compliment of education, food and clothing, and social service assistance Oasis provides as “amazing.”
“It’s not just about the photography,” or the other programs the local non-profit provide in their Mill Street, Davila concluded. “The fellowship, the opportunity to be together in a safe haven, matters.”
Asked to explain more about the program Ruth Plucinski and Michael Donow, two of the volunteer teachers, said that by “using their neighborhood as a canvass” the children get weekly lessons on all matters of photography, from composition to uploading and editing them.
Among the benefits, both said, the students also get important lessons on how to express themselves and see their environment differently.
For Jim Walsh, chief operating officer and director of social services, the program aligns perfectly with the Oasis mission of “helping to break the cycle of poverty.”
The pictures give the children an “accomplishment” Walsh said, and the night out gets parents involved.
Considering the possibility of helping to launch the a career of a future professional photographer Walsh said that while PYPP may turn into “something bigger” for any of the students helping them learn that “anything is possible if they put their mind to it.”
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