Photos and Health

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:

About Gillian