San Bernardino: Finding a Voice Through a Camera Lens
Voice of Reflection, an exhibit of the images and thoughts of youth growing up in public housing, was the culminating event of a three-year community-based research project done in collaboration with the Boys and Girls Club of Waterman Gardens and CSU San Bernardino psychology students, under the mentorship of Dr. David Chavez. Researchers measured feelings of empowerment among children through a needs/strengths assessment called PhotoVoice. The youth at Waterman Gardens were asked to represent their community or point of view through photography – taking photos of what matters to them. The exhibit acted as a springboard for attendees to explore their own thoughts and resulted in an increased awareness by elected officials, public housing officers and community members of the needs of this at-risk population. "By teaching the participants to actively observe and document their world focusing on problematic issues," said Chavez, "they learn to critically reflect, articulate their thoughts about these issues and collaboratively problem solve. This helps empower the youth towards problem solving in their community."
“I have an incredible group of dedicated students who have given much of themselves, while simultaneously engaging in service and research in the community. Their passion for making a difference in the world really comes through.”
—Dr. David Chavez
research empowering communities:
In partnership with local nonprofits, community groups and local farmers, San Diego State students enrolled in Geography 496 utilized their training in social science research to respond to the need for more detailed information on food access and alternative food initiatives impacting residents in three San Diego neighborhoods.
Students created the Campus Alliance for Economic Justice, which met with community, faith and labor leaders to raise San José's minimum wage from $8 to $10 an hour. The coalition raised awareness by phone banking, canvassing and speaking to the media about their own experiences struggling to get by on minimum wage.