Year after year I continue to be impressed with the top talent and the commitment the CE team has toward the mission. With little resources, CE is able to make a significant impact on the lives of students as well as help bring about change in the schools--truly making a positive difference.
I have recently joined the family of Critical Exposure and given the size of the staff and members the organization does a great job in bring awareness to the inequities of the public school system. I think with more funding and resources the organization will continue to grow and make impacts on young children as they continue to express themselves through photography and their own voices.
I am fortunate to know well the work that Critical Exposure does with the youth in the communities it serves. CE takes the energy of a small group of passionate individuals to create big change in classrooms, communities, and cities. Teens have documented the high school drop-out crisis in DC Public Schools, they've taken school systems to task to change the conditions of school buildings in districts across the country, and they've helped tell the story youth homelessness. I've seen the effect the young people's photographs have on viewers, when their work is exhibited. The images force people to stop. They shake their heads in disbelief. They look around for other people in the room to share their thoughts with... It is truly remarkable. And that's to say nothing of the impact the photographs and advocacy work have made on legislation and budgets of big cities and school districts.
To engage with Critical Exposure is to be struck by three things: 1) that it teaches a skill - photography - that gives children an empowering voice and a potential avocation later; 2) the maturity of its staff and programs despite its size; and 3) the way it just executes on all cylinders. Attend one of their functions and you cannot help but see the power of their mission at work, on the walls in the form of the photographs underprivileged children take to document the deplorable conditions of their schools and living circumstances.
Critical Exposure is supporting students around the country in learning new skills AND telling their personal stories to the general public. Through this process, students support important policies changes that will improve their lives directly and gain confidence as they learn the fundamental of photography and the power of personal expression. It is vital the the people actually affected by issues -- and in this case young people themselves -- are actively engaged in discussions about solutions. Critical Exposure is extremely effective in this process.
Critical Exposure taught my middle school students how to document what worked and what didn't work in our school, write about these photographs, and create a petition for change. Students felt empowered and engaged through this work, and they learned skills that they will carry with them -- photography, advocacy, and writing.