Watkins photography professor Joy McKenzie spent part of her vacation going back to school—junior high, no less. At the invitation of Fran Zinder, a teacher at Apollo Junior High School, Professor McKenzie shared her knowledge, and love, of photography with more than a dozen students enrolled in SMART Moves (Skills Mastery and Resistance Training), a six-week summer program for kids at risk, designed to broaden their experiences and to help them in decision-making.
During a two-week portion that concentrated on art and image making, students learned how cameras work by making their own camera obscura, reviewed influential historical and contemporary photographers, and discussed composition and pre-planning photos. Students created cyanotype images (a type of photogram, with objects placed on light sensitive paper that is then developed with water to make a blue image), and took B&W photos using a digital point-and-shoot camera and a Holga camera. The teachers processed the film and made the prints for the students. Plaza Arts and Calumet Photographic worked with Ms. McKenzie and Ms. Zinder to bring art and photography to the SMART Moves program.
“These children – not to mention my assistants and I – received an unparalleled, powerful experience from Professor McKenzie! I simply could not have offered anything close to this experience without her expertise and generosity,” said Ms. Zinder. “Perhaps the kids say it best from their journal entries.”
The SMART Moves (Skills Mastery and Resistance Training) prevention/education program, a national initiative of the Boys & Girls Clubs of America, addresses problems such as drug and alcohol use and premature sexual activity.
The program uses a research-based, team approach involving staff, peer leaders, parents and community representatives. More than simply emphasizing a "Say No" message, the program teaches young people ages 6 to 15 how to say no by involving them in discussion and role-playing, practicing resistance and refusal skills, developing assertiveness, strengthening decision-making skills and analyzing media and peer influence. The ultimate goal: to promote abstinence from substance abuse and adolescent sexual involvement through the practice of responsible behavior.
During the Apollo SMART Moves Summer Camp, designed and presented by Ms. Zinder, students were given opportunities for a wide variety of personal expression, from face-cast mask making to black and white photography, and equipped with the knowledge and skills to continue making art on their own. This gave them creative, fun, positive choices of responsible behavior for their free time in the summer.