ProjectFocus Hawai’i Presents
Our youngest participant stood reluctantly at the doorway searching for a familiar face among the crowd of children waiting to begin our program. “Eh, you,” said a teen whose husky local timbre and vocal depth would have frightened the bravest, “You like come in and take one picture?” This simple act of compassion by another to one who needed a helping hand was a significant moment and one that inspired the title for our first exhibit.
Crossing the threshold to the unknown can be scary and overwhelming, especially for our participants who have been dealt some very tough hands in the game of life. Taking that step can also lead to hope, opportunities and new beginnings. With this in mind, we invited 14 children and youth from PACTʻs Community Teen Center, located on the grounds of one of Honoluluʻs largest public housing complexes, to join our program. Armed with medium format Holga cameras that we distributed to them, they set out to photograph the single individual who meant the most to them. Together, they explored their surroundings through the camera lens and viewed their worlds from a different perspective…a kinder and gentler perspective.
The visual results were astonishing and the accompanying narratives about their photo subjects were richly woven with the textures of lives that are so foreign to most of us. Our hearts went out to one young teen in particular whose grandfather (and her photo subject) passed away shortly after our exhibit opening. She placed the photograph she had taken of him in his casket, a measure of honor in her culture. A replacement photograph was provided so she could keep his memory alive as a testament to the legacy of love he left behind for her.
By opening the door to this experience, participants not only learned a new craft but also (and more importantly), took the time to reflect on the good in those who have touched their lives in significant ways. Through their affirmation statements, they learned the choices they make now could open many more doors for a better future. Collectively, this group of young people demonstrated that they aspire to do good, be great, and achieve much in the face adversity.
Parents and Children Together (PACT)
Founded in 1968, Parents And Children Together (PACT) is one of Hawaii’s leading non-profit organizations providing a wide array of innovative and educational social services. PACT helps families identify, address and successfully resolve challenges through its 15 statewide programs.
One such program supported by PACT is its Community Teen Program, a comprehensive youth service center for youth ages 7-18 who live in and around Honolulu’s largest public housing complex, Kuhio Park Terrace and Kuhio Homes and in Puuwai Momi, a low-income housing project in Halawa. These after-school programs promote the development of healthy youth, families, and community with an abundance of positive experiences for youth and family members including educational, recreational, community building and support services.