Recently I have been exposed (pardon the pun) to a local nonprofit organization that focuses oh photography. Instead of throwing away, or keeping a good digital camera in storage, the Cameras for Kids Foundation is able to provide an opportunity to utilize it in a meaningful way. They recycle donated digital cameras and reuse them to teach teens in foster care the art of photography. This not only reduces the amount of waste that may otherwise end up in landfills but provides a truly positive, even life altering experience, for the students who learn from professional photographers.
A single camera can have a significant carbon footprint. Plastic alone is a significant contributor to waste. Approximately 8 million tons of plastic (according to the February issue of journal Science) end up in the ocean, for example. The materials that make up a digital camera include not only plastic, but also glass, metal, rubber, steel, magnesium, and sometimes other materials, depending on the make and model. Because of these materials, a camera should never be thrown in the trash, but even more so – because of the batteries.
With the accelerated advancement of camera technology incorporated into today’s cell phones, there are many digital cameras that do not get thrown out, but are sitting in storage somewhere. Professional photographers upgrade their equipment to keep up with the technology while the amateur photographer may find that their cell phone camera is sufficient enough to meet their demands.
Founded in 2009, Cameras for Kids Foundation has reused a total of 150 donated digital cameras teaching at least 300 foster kids photography and has brought its program to 28 separate locations across the US, Canada and Haiti. The number of students has accelerated dramatically with over 600 students involved in 12 states in 2015.
Foster children often are not afforded a creative outlet, or for that matter the opportunity to learn a skill set such as photography. Not only that, but having a positive role model such as a professional photographer, provides a significant benefit far beyond learning how to take a picture. That photograph can have a life of its own that builds confidence, self-esteem and hope for their future.
The process starts with the pairing of a student with a professional photographer who volunteers their time to teach. The student learns the basic skills and is tasked with assignments. The program lasts for a total of 8 weeks, meeting once a week for an hour class.
In 2013 and 2014, Cameras for Kids Foundation was a top-rated non-profit organization. Their goal is to expand the program, allowing for more students to be exposed to photography.
For more information on Cameras for Kids visit http://www.camerasforkidsfoundation.org