Fourth graders given cameras to create images of hope

posted on March 30, 2012

Lane Bordeaux eagerly tries out his newly-acquired cameraOn Tuesday March 26, students in Gretchen Lees’ fourth grade class could barely contain their excitement over the special visitor they had been told was coming.

The visitor was Jason Alley, and he had a present for the children; 27-exposure disposable cameras that came free of charge, but with a challenge. The students were tasked with taking pictures of “hope” – whatever that might look like to them, be it their friends, their grandma, a sunrise, blooming flower, or anything that spoke to them in that way.

The fourth graders will return the cameras in a little more than a week’s time, and they will be sent to the American Advertising Federation of the Black Hills. The goal of the project, which is being facilitated in conjunction with a business class from Oglala Lakota College and the Sweet Grass Project suicide prevention program, is to do a public service campaign about what hope looks like from the perspective of young children.

The organizations behind this campaign will select pictures from what the students produce to create full-color billboards and posters, which will be put up all around the reservation. These will prominently feature messages of hope, as well as the Sweet Grass Project’s contact information.

Alley said that Red Cloud is not the only participating school, and that cameras have also been given to students at Loneman School in Oglala and Crazy Horse School in Wanblee. He is hoping that they can bring in other schools to participate as well, although that will be contingent on the availability of funds.

With a few days yet to go before the cameras are due back, the students have already been hard at work finding subjects for their pictures. Family members and pets have figured most prominently so far. Fourth grader Riyen Carlow reported, "I took a picture of my sister because she means a lot to me. I love her so much, I don't want her to ever leave. The second picture I took was of my cat because she loves me so much. She comes to me every day when I come back from school."

More information on the Sweet Grass Project can be found here on their Facebook page.