PhotoKids Snap the Mall to Test Laptops for Children in Third World Countries

Today, ten young MoCo photographers (ages 6 to 13) are hitting the National Mall for an afternoon of experimentation and art making. Led by artist Joanne Miller, these student photographers are not only hoping to get some great photos on this spectacular Autumn day, but they’re also helping to test a photography application on special “XO” laptops that will be given to children in third world countries by the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) nonprofit organization.

Click here to see the photographs as they are being made right now

What’s particularly poignant about today’s exercise is that these young photographers were participants in a summer program called “PhotoKids” that AHCMC and Housing Opportunities Commission’s (HOC) developed in 2009. With grant funds from AHCMC and Sovereign Bank, Joanne was hired to provide a ten-week summer program that took the children on a journey of discovery–about art, about nature, about themselves.

Once a week, Joanne and the kids visited nature sites: Roosevelt Island, Butler’s Orchard, Brookside Gardens and Great Falls to name a few. Living in a subsidized public housing community in Gaithersburg, most of the children had never been to a farm or a national park. Their wonder at the wildness of rivers, fragility of frogs and beauty of flowers is evident in the stunning photographs they took. Joanne supplied all the cameras and at the end of the summer, each child received a photo album and a CD of their photographs. Exhibition of the children’s photographs were held at the Family Resource Center where they lived and at the Executive Office Building (EOB) in Rockville.

Now PhotoKids is back again! This time taking on the National Mall and helping other children connect to the big, wide world.  After photographing iconic sites at the Mall, the children are uploading their photo to the XO computers—that’s actually a part of the software testing being done today.  The children’s feedback will help the program designers improve the software for use by children around the world. On site with Joanne to help out with technical difficulties is Mike Lee of Sugar Labs, DC, a developer of activities for OLPC.

Programs like PhotoKids are incredibly effective in helping children develop into the kind of people you want to have in your life.  They’re interesting and interested, they’re empathetic, they persevere, they’re fearless and  they think creatively about problems.  Not just art problems, but the problems of the world, and right now with oil slicks in the Gulf, war in Afghanistan and the problem of affordable health care, shouldn’t we be teaching our kids how to tackle really tough problems?

Thank you Joanne Miller, HOC and One Laptop Per Child for unleashing PhotoKids on the world today!!! Click here to see what you can do.

To find out more about One Laptop Per Child click here.

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