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New Library Display at Strong Showcases Community Cleanup Effort

Friday, August 06, 2004

A new photo display showcasing children who are trying to make a difference in their community now lines the walls leading into the reading room of the Edward G. Miner Library at Strong Memorial Hospital. The display is part of “Children’s Visions and Voices,” a year-long project based on the work of sixth grade students at Enrico Fermi School No. 17 that enabled them to recognize health and safety hazards in their community, and then take part in a clean-up day aimed at making their neighborhood a better place to live.

In September of 2003, the students met with former U.S. Surgeon General David Satcher, M. D., to discuss their concerns about their health and the health of their neighborhood. The students were then given disposable cameras and asked to photograph issues in their community that they felt negatively impacted the health of residents. Each student selected one photo and wrote a short essay; all 59 photos and essays were published in March 2004 in a booklet entitled Children’s Visions and Voices.

As a result of their work for the booklet, the sixth graders set out to improve at least one of the issues identified in the book. They discussed creating permanent projects, such as a Peace Park or new basketball courts, but felt that these would eventually be vandalized. The children created and participated in “Taking Pride in Our Neighborhood” campaign, which was launched in May 2004 with a general clean-up and flower planting day. 

The display at Strong Memorial not only contains the children’s images and essays, but also photos taken during “Taking Pride in Our Neighborhood” Day.

The images of the neighborhood threats give insight into the situations that the students of the Jay/Orchard Street area live with on a daily basis.  Stories of disgust and fear accompany photos of abandoned buildings, garbage, the homeless, lead poisoning hazards and the memorial of Tyshaun Lamar Caldwell, a classmate of the children killed in 2001 by a stray bullet in the midst of a fight between drug dealers.

These are juxtaposed with the images of the neighborhood clean-up day, where the students picked up truckloads of trash, pulled weeds, planted flowers and installed smoke alarms in neighbors’ houses, all in effort to make their community a better place to live. 

Images of this day were captured by volunteers from the Community Darkroom at the Genesee Center for Arts and Education, who also worked to design the display.

“The children’s images of community threats were compelling, and we were happy to show our support by photographing them working to change these conditions,” said Susan Andersen, one of six photographers at “Taking Pride in Our Neighborhood” day.

The display will remain up in Miner Library until September 30.

The Children’s Visions and Voices books can be obtained for $5 by calling 273-3787. All proceeds from the sale of the books go to support activities for the students at School 17. 

Media Contact

Germaine Reinhardt

(585) 275-6517

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