Description Yuki L.Beginning DigitalSpring 2010When I came to Seattle a few years ago, there was something different about this place. Even though there was many more people here than where I used to live, everyone seems to be in a rush, distant and cold. Sure they were all polite but not really nice. I thought, “I guess I can’t expect everyone to welcome me with a warm hug and treat me like family ☹.” It was pretty obvious that I was not from here and it made me feel like an outsider. I didn’t wear Northface, drink much coffee or have the biggest umbrella ever. So I just went alone waiting for Seattle to open its arm to me but it never happened or so I thought.I spent most of my free time alone taking pictures and I enjoyed it. One day I bumped into a person right next to me who happened to be taking a picture of the same flower as me. He smiled at me and continued to snap photos. It wasn’t one of those ‘one second smile and immediately back to serious face’ fake smiles, it was a warm and welcoming smile! I was so surprised and delighted and I wanted to say something but nothing came out of my mouth. I awkwardly stood there and I ran away. That’s when I realized Seattle has already welcomed me with a warm hug even before I got here.Out of all the states and cities my family specifically chose Seattle for no particular reason. But I didn’t see that in the beginning. I was too scared of getting hurt or rejected, I had started building walls around me with excuses and expected Seattle to break it down. I believe many people do the same thing and that is why there is “Seattle Chill.” The truth is, I still don’t wear Northface, drink much coffee and do the stereotypical Seattle things but I am very much part of Seattle. Cliché as it sounds, I decided to be the change I wanted to see in my little orbit and doing so, it affected everything and also everyone around me.
Youth In Focus, Seattle Member Since May 2009 Artist Statement Youth in Focus’s mission is to empower urban youth, through photography, to experience their world in new ways and to make positive choices for their lives. We put cameras in the hands of low income, at-risk youth and place them in a challenging environment surrounded by high quality talented teachers, nurturing adult volunteer mentors, and create a strong community of support. Through photography our students find their voice, identity, creativity, and gain new confidence in their worth and abilities.
Why Youth in Focus?
(Critical Time) We work with youth, 13-19 years of age, who face a variety of challenges in their lives on a daily basis, and who struggle with a combination of race, poverty or homophobia. At Youth in Focus, we feel that we reach at-risk youth at a crucial time – at or before the 9th grade – when 90% of the majority of youth that drop out of high school do during that year.
(Statistics) Nearly 73% of our students qualify for the free/reduced lunch program, 82% are students of color, and 70% live with a single parent or have other living arrangements. In 19 years, Youth in Focus has had more than 2,800 youth go through our free youth development photography program.
(Exceptional Standards) Youth Program Quality Assessment (YPQA) scores for Youth in Focus, in 2011 and 2012, were consistently higher than comparison scores for 1,216 other National Youth programs.
(Direct Attention) We intentionally keep our classes small to facilitate maximum student-adult interaction and relationship building. Youth in Focus creates a healthy, positive place where diverse students feel they belong.
(Nationally Recognized) The President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities recognized Youth in Focus as a model program in 2000, providing “life-changing activities” to youth with limited opportunities. Our students have shown their work at the Seattle Art Museum, Henry Art Gallery and the Washington State Convention Center. Click here to see the feature KING 5 did on us recently.