Through the lens of youth

Community COVID-19 Featured

Local teenager takes part in photovoice project to share community experience

Finding reflection and a new way to express her thoughts and share them with policymakers was not what Shyanna Denny had expected to do during her time in quarantine.

After her mom sent her a link to The Atlantic Youth Weaver Photovoice project, Denny decided to apply and give it a try. The project allowed 15 youth from across Atlantic Canada to use photography to show their experience in their community during COVID-19. In total, the project lasted eight weeks with a different theme each week for participants to capture.

“It highlights their experiences related to community and global change, social innovation, the sustainable development goals, and the importance of bridging experiences across sectors and communities toward “new normals”, said a press release on the project.

Beginning on May 12, Denny followed the theme each week and used it to draw inspiration from her community for what she wanted to photograph and what she wanted to draw attention to. Currently, all the photos from Denny and the other 14 participants are being compiled into an online photo display for others to look through and see what is important to Atlantic Canadian youth. The gallery is set to be released in August.

“At the end of the week everyone would send in their photos,” explained Jen McRuer, project co-ordinator, about the process.

Denny added that she enjoyed connecting with others from across the Atlantic Provinces each week and seeing their work and hearing how they interpreted the theme as well as just having the chance to meet new people and connect with others when so many felt isolated from the world around them. A big group meeting was held each week to allow this connection and perspective sharing to happen.

“It was comforting to hear other people’s stories,” said Denny.

She mentioned that she enjoyed putting things together for the project each week as well as the adventures she went on to get the photo she wanted each time.

“It almost felt like taking the photo, I was bringing awareness to something,” she said. While Denny thinks others may have been using cameras, she was using her iPhone to take shots and mentioned that she was amazed at what it can do photo-wise and how the photographs that she took with it turned out.

“We don’t really have that much opportunity,” said Denny about growing up in the small community of Pictou Landing. “Having that chance to represent myself and my community is a really big thing.”

Out of the different things Denny was hoping to portray in her photographs she shared that she is big on the environment. “Environmental racism is something I speak out about.” Currently working with the Boat Harbour restoration project Denny not only talks the talk but walks the walk about the environment and how important it is to her.

“The work of the Atlantic Youth Weavers is critically exploring a multitude of perspectives from rural and urban dynamics, with inclusion of many identities and abilities. Youth-led action is unfolding in creative and inspiring ways, as they apply photovoice project learnings (and unlearnings) to advocate for the present and future they envision,” stated the press release on the program.