Using Their Eyes And Brains

Looking over the children’s photo exhibit. (Photo by Frank Rizzo)

One of the fruits of the Westbury Arts Summer Camp was on display at the Westbury Arts building recently. The organization hosted an exhibit to highlight the photography of the 35 summer arts camp members. They were handed a digital camera and asked to take photos to illustrate the principles they had learned via the week-long Simple Good curriculum. The Simple Good’s mission is “To connect the meaning of ‘good’ from around the world to empower youth to bring positivity into communities through art and discussion.”

“The Simple Good was coaching them about thinking about the meaning of the picture and how we’re related to the communities,” said Westbury Arts President Julie Lyon.

Camp Director Patty Eljaiek noted that photography is among the electives at the camp. Before heading out into the playground with their cameras, she said, the campers “had art activities and discussions in order to understand what the theme was and how they could depict it. Their curriculum guided what they were doing.”

After being virtual last year, the fourth-year camp was held in person and continued to be one of the most popular Westbury Arts activities, with 55 applying for the 35 spots. The age range is 6 to 12.

Eljaiek noted that about 15 kids attend the entire six-week camp, while others might take two (the minimum) or three weeks.

Niah Felton poses with her photo. (Photo by Frank Rizzo)

She hopes that in the future she can get grants and eventually expose the campers to new experiences, maybe by introduce them to guest artists.

“I’m trying to find funding to continue [arts programs] during the school year,” Eljaiek added. “And that would give other families more of an opportunity to get involved.”

Among the participants were Niah Felton, 11, who entered the middle school. Her mom Debbie said she designed the fifth grade class shirt. It featured a light bulb on the front with images of a mask, sanitizer, water bottle and computer. It also had the words, “The future is bright/It hasn’t been easy but they found the light.” The back of it said, “Give light and the people will find a way.”

Her photo caption read:

Hello my name is Niah. I am 11 years old and a 10 Westbury Arts summer camp. My simple good is being happy because when people are happy, I smile. My simple good was inspired by doing things that make me feel happy. I depicted my simple good my photo by showing that I’m happy. I plan on using my meaning of the simple good to improve my community and change the. world by making myself happy all the time.

Mia Izaguirre points to her picture. (Photo by Frank Rizzo)

entered third grade at Drexel Avenue Elementary School. She was with her parents, Katya and José, as well as twin sister Adriana. Her photo caption read:

Hello my name is Mia. I am 8 years old and attend Westbury Arts Summer Camp. My simple good is friendship because I have a lot of love for people. My simple good was inspired by my family. People are always by my side. I want to do that for my community. I depicted my simple good in my photo by showing my sister. I plan on using my meaning of the simple good to improve my community and change the world by showing what I love. If I could change the world I would show more love and peace. Another one of my simple goods is that I like people. When I grow up I want to be the President of the United States of America. If one day I end up doing that I will be really happy.

This year, the Creative Teen Summer Program was supported by the Manhasset Community Fund’s Greentree Foundation “Good Neighbor” Grant. There were some paintings on display from the program in the exhibit space.


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