Making arts education accessible

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The arts have an important impact on youth development. Studies have shown that involvement with the arts is associated with better academic and civic outcomes for young adults. Unfortunately, not all schools meet state requirements for arts education, and that can potentially affect a student’s development and future success.

Neighborhood House helps to fill this gap with their Lights, Camera, Action program. Twice a week, teens attend class with resident artists, Patrick and Jalil. Students are encouraged to explore the arts and find something that speaks to them.

Photography caught the interest of 19-year-old Abdullahi. Before the program, he’d only taken photos on his phone. And although he enjoyed photography, he never would have made the investment in professional equipment to expand his hobby. Through Lights, Camera, Action, Abdullahi was able to learn how to use a DSLR camera and other photography equipment.

He likes that the class is a different format than what he’s used to. “It’s not forced learning,” he explains. There aren’t assignments that need to be completed by a certain date, tests to take, or lectures. He gets to learn on his own terms.

And he’s learning a lot. Before Abdullahi joined the program, he had a surface-level understanding of photography. Now he’s learning about lighting and composition. When you change the elements of a photo, “You can change the message you’re sending,” he says.

He’s even developed his own style. He enjoys photographing a combination of manmade elements and nature. He says, “It’s where two beautiful things come together.”

Now he’s hoping to take what he’s learned and use it. He’s in his first year of college and wants to study engineering or medicine, but he’d like to freelance using his photography skills.

Abdullahi was able to learn from experts, use professional equipment, and expand his knowledge in a hobby—and recommends other young people do the same. Look for future Lights, Camera, Action sessions in 2020.