What if the most marginalised people in our society, the ones who have no voice to speak about the decisions that impact on them, were given a voice. What if the kid who can’t play on the playground because it’s been burnt down could get someone to hear their story? or the teen infected by HIV who just wants to warn others of the dangers of unprotected sex could get their message out there? or those with a mental illness who struggle to get through each day were given a tool to express their own joys and frustrations without having to communicate in the way the world tells them to? What if we could ask those two kids in the photo above what is important to them, what would they say?
One of the tools I have been looking into over the last few weeks with my work has been photovoice, a methodology that provides marginalised people with a camera, the training in how to use it, and lets them go out and take pictures of things that are important to them. It’s been used all around the world, from China to America, Canada to Papua New Guinea and the thing I think is great about it is that it gives these individuals a voice. By providing someone with the tools, skills and opportunity to express what is important to them, they can begin to be advocates for change in their communities, they become empowered to identify and speak out about their own priorities and concerns, and those working with them can see and hear what is really important to them.
They are given a voice.
‘What has all this got to do with health?’ I hear you ask… Well everything! The photovoice methodology has so much to do with every aspect of health. Using this tool can open our eyes to the barriers that prevent people from accessing health services. It helps us to understand the perspective of those who are most marginalised in our society and gives them the resources to speak out about their own health and improve their own health. This is what I think health is all about: giving even the least in our society a chance at complete physical, mental and social well-being.
Have a look at this short clip to see how some people have used photovoice with people with a disability: