This is part of a series of conversations with member organisations of the Connection Coalition.
Show and Tell Photo is helping thousands of 9-18 year olds, across 660 UK and international schools, express their emotions through photography. The project is becoming a global movement, with a fast-expanding community of teachers, young people and parents/carers.
Here, Ash (Show and Tell Photo’s Director of Partnerships) shares what they’re doing and invites interested members to connect.
I’ve worked in a variety of strategic roles, but my real focus and passion is on mental health. I’ve been involved with Show & Tell Photo since January this year, doing pro-bono work because I think this project is absolutely amazing – so I really wanted to promote it to the other Connection Coalition members here!
We enable children and young people to express their emotions through photography. The young people we work with learn about the power of photography and the abilities they have to create stunning imagery, but we also help them understand how to be mindful in their photography and how the images they produce can help them reflect on their own feelings. We want to help children and young people understand their own mental health better, which we hope might help prevent them from developing mental health problems in later life.
We’ve produced two series of short workshop films involving professional photographers and made them available to anyone, free of charge, on our website. These films teach the positive link between photography and mental health. Each workshop is accompanied with a task encouraging the practice of smartphone photography as a mindful technique.
Each year we put on a show of young peoples’ work – displaying their extraordinary images, but crucially also their accompanying words. We find that young people expressing their emotions through an image is key when it comes to enabling many to open up.
We also work with schools to support their students to engage with photography and speak about their mental health. The schools we work with do this in all sorts of ways – using our resources to run creative lessons, PSHE projects, clubs and breaktime activities.
Show & Tell Photo has taken off massively in its first two years. We received 34,531 entries to the 2022 Show and Tell exhibition and thousands of Workshop Films and photography tasks were completed.
But it’s not just about the scale – there are many incredible personal stories of how a young person’s involvement in the project has helped them. I immediately think of a girl who joined the programme and was mute. As she engaged with our workshops, she slowly began opening up and talking a little about how she felt as she reflected on her photographs. She ended up growing in confidence so much that she spoke in front of the camera in one of our films about displaced children. Schools have told us about countless children like that who have opened up for the first time after creating their own photography.
We’ve recently added The HUMAN School’s 276,000 Ukrainian children to our creative network, so we’re really excited to see what they’ll create for our 2023 exhibition. But like many other members of the network, we’re in a tricky financial moment. We’ve had amazing corporate sponsorship from Cisco for the last two years, but that has come to an end and we need to find new funding for our core costs, and to continue our schools workshops and for the exhibitions of young people’s photography. Time is running out as we’d really love to put on an exhibition for World Mental Health Day on 10th October.
Get in touch
If any members of the network would like to connect, to share ideas, potentially work together and especially if you have any suggestions on ways we might maintain this wonderful project, then please reach out to me – I’d love to hear from you.