PHOENIX (KSAZ) - The students Children First Academy live at or below the poverty line, any many don't have a stable family unit. The Kids in Focus program pairs theses students with photographers, who help them learn how to shoot photos and more importantly learn to look at the world in a different way.
"The camera is kind of like my best friend, and then I just go with the flow with the camera," said Summer Roadlander.
Summer Roadlander's bond with her camera started 8 weeks ago when she enrolled in Kids in Focus, a non-profit that pairs two dozen at-risk youth with 11 photographer mentors.
"The main thing we want to teach them is to go out and explore the world, to have faith in themselves, believe in themselves, that they can accomplish something and to see the world in different views," said Claudia Johnstone.
A mentor herself, Claudia Johnstone has seen how poverty, homelessness, and even abuse can profoundly affect kids like these. 13-year-old Vanessa Valenzuela struggled with school last year, but says the program has helped put things in focus.
"I actually get really excited because I really like taking pictures a lot, I feel relaxed, it just pushes everything to the side," said Vanessa Valenzuela.
These incredible student photos will be unveiled at the Burton Carr Central Library on Friday. Each student will receive a hard bound photo book to remind them the world can be seen through more than just one lense.
The opening reception for the exhibit is at 5:30 Friday, and photos will be on display through April 30.
If you can't make the show and would like to purchase some of the student's photos, you can do it on their website.