By the time I arrived, the sun was already setting- the park in Calvario full of kids running around, playing on the minimal equipment; their older counterparts huddled in groups, watching the soccer match and having an afternoon chat. Matthew had finished teaching the first session. Some of our kids were already playing in the game. Two of the youngest hung around and emphatically showed me all they had learned about perspective, laying on the ground, then popping up and twisting their bodies to show different angles for potential shots.
Cameras were distributed when the game finished, with a refresher of the lesson, and a brief discussion of their assignment:
Take five photos of your neighborhood.
Matthew told the kids that your neighborhood could be a building, or a street, or the trashcan on the corner, or someone you pass every day. One of the little boys was getting squirrely, and when asked what his photos would be, he said the church and the corner, and a dog. He was mildly chastised on the spot for not paying attention to the assignment, but really, maybe those things are his neighborhood. I see Central Park as a place I sit for coffee and walk through it to get somewhere else, but to him, that is where life happens. The big black and white street dog, Oso, may be his neighbor. I know for certain that there are days when a bench is bed, and his home.
We see the kids again today at four, and look forward to hearing about what was good, and what was hard about their assignment, and their day. We only get to hang with these kids for two weeks, but for the InnerCHANGE team, this is every day. Their dedication and investment in the youth is unbelievable. They walk the park, checking in with the kids, making sure that even if they are not entirely well, that they know they are consistently loved, and heard- no matter what.
Take a look at Melanie’s blog, really. She writes beautifully, but more than that, the stories she tells will challenge you. I don’t wonder if she watches over her neighbors. I can already imagine what her photos would be if she were given this assignment- people and practical love.
If you were to take five photos of your neighborhood, what would they contain?