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Youths Encounter Life Lessons Through the Lens

Aly Dove and Max Feinstein
YouthMAP co-founders Ally Dove '15 (left) and Max Feinstein '15

Davidson students are providing some local young people with an opportunity to look beyond their troubles by looking through the lens of a camera in a community engagement program called YouthMAP (Youth Marketing and Photography).

Davidson student mentors meet weekly with about a dozen young participants from the Ada Jenkins Community Center After School Program and Barium Springs Home for Children. The mentors lead student photographers through exercises and adventures in photography, such as portraiture, composition, still life, location shoots, painting with light and photo editing.

“The idea is to use photography as a tool to build relationships between participants and their Davidson mentors, and to build self-confidence in the young photographers,” said program co-founder and coordinator Aly Dove '15.

The purpose was met for at least one young participant named Juliet, who said, “My first week taking pictures, I thought it would be boring. But as I started going to the class, my pictures started to get better. Now I think taking pictures is more exciting than drawing a picture. Photography is calming and I love it.”

Each semester of activity culminates in a public YouthMAP Gala in the Belk Visual Arts Center. Family, friends, mentors and members of the public enjoy refreshments and view participants’ work, which is professionally displayed for show and for sale. Selected works also have been hung in the Spencer Lobby of Chambers Building for viewing by the college community.

Now in its second year, YouthMAP won top prize of $4,500 in last spring’s college-wide Ideas of March competition, allowing the group to expand its efforts, purchase new equipment and enroll additional participants.