Foster children live in limbo land. They aren’t orphans; they have parents. But they don’t live with their parents. When that foster child is also navigating through the often confusing and emotionally volatile adolescent years, a sense of self-worth and purpose can be especially allusive.
In 2009, Betsey Chesler, a fine art photographer and photo journalist from Florida, discovered a residential foster care facility was located near her home. Her compassionate heart drew her to visit the facility. She wanted to give something to the teens who lived there that could have a lasting positive impact on their lives. Betsey offered to share the artistic power of the camera lens with them.
Betsey’s idea was not to simply give the children cameras, but to truly teach them how to see and capture artistic images with their cameras. With the approval of the facility management, Betsey wrote the curriculum for an eight-week course. The children were given the option to signup for the course as an extra-curricular activity. In 2010, Betsey taught her first group of kids.
The students who signed up for the course weren’t necessarily excited about photography when they started. Some of the teens were withdrawn and avoided eye-contact, others presented a tough defensive exterior. Each week Betsey taught one basic concept and gave them a photography assignment for the week that would utilize that concept. It took a few weeks, but eventually, Betsey could see “the magic” start to happen.
Kathleen Krueger is a full time freelance writer and poet from Minnesota. She is a regular contributor to several lifestyle magazines and also provides a variety of copywriting services. You can find her on the Web at: