Despite difficult conditions in pandemic times, Canon Germany's Young People Programme 2021 was successfully completed in the last week of September. Once again, young people who are faced with the decision of which career path to take were able to take a look at the profession of documentary photography. The thematic focus of the programme is the UN Sustainable Development Goals, which the participants were asked to implement photographically. The organisation Teach First Germany brought the programme to one of its more than 25 outreach schools throughout North Rhine-Westphalia, the Heinrich-Böll-Gesamtschule in Düren. The results are definitely worth seeing.
Solar panels in the countryside by Lea S. / Canon Young People Programme 2021
The Young People Programme is not only about teaching creativity and career opportunities around photography. It is also about creating more awareness for the UN's Sustainable Development Goals among young people and sensitising them to the issues. And so each programme starts with the teaching of these 17 goals. Daniel Hahn, responsible for sustainability at Canon Germany, and Pauline Gödecke, Fellow of Teach First Germany, conveyed the contents in an initial lecture, which the students followed attentively. The final task was to "translate" the content into a photo. To ensure that this worked well, Jens Landmesser, trainer at the Canon Academy, first taught the basics of photography and camera operation. Building on this, the renowned and multi-award-winning nature photographer Ulla Lohmann worked with the students on what makes a strong, meaningful picture. Over the course of three days, the participants learned the photographic tools of the trade: exposure, time, aperture, composition - everything that is important for a good picture was conveyed to the participants in equally instructive and entertaining contributions.
Pauline Gödecke is pleased that the initiative has come about at her school: "We have been given a really great opportunity here. Access to these exciting topics, photography, creativity, awareness of sustainability, would not have been possible on this scale for any of us. The students took a lot away from this workshop. It was great fun to see the enthusiasm for photography in the students. After the theoretical part, it was time to get out into the action, equipped with high-quality Canon cameras. The participants worked out their own picture stories and looked for motifs that expressed challenges and solutions to sustainability. Or they found motifs that they associated with the sustainability goals. Images and visual storytelling work in many ways, which the young people tried out. What emerged is a collection of photographs worth seeing, of which all participants are justifiably proud.
Maurice Z. comments: "The photo project was a great experience. Through the project we had a chance to take photographs with cameras that we wouldn't have otherwise. With the different settings and lenses we were able to take lots of different photos." Kevin K. adds: "Very cool experience! We got to learn how a camera works and how to tell stories with pictures. I had a lot of fun and hope that it will be useful for me later on." Sarah A. is also enthusiastic: "I learned completely new things here. With the camera I was outdoors a lot more than usual and took pictures. The camera gave me a completely new perspective on the world.
The impetus for the selection of the Heinrich Böll Comprehensive School came from Fellows of "Teach First Germany". The non-profit educational organisation sends university graduates from all disciplines to so-called hotspot schools as additional teachers for two years. Teach First Germany's mission: Fellows support teachers in the classroom, strengthen students' self-confidence through joint projects and help them make plans for their future careers. The educational success of students in Germany still depends on their economic background. The income and educational level of the parents determine the career paths of children and young people. They are particularly noticeable as obstacles when, for example, pupils are between school types or want to start an apprenticeship. The jump to the next level regularly becomes a breaking point in their lives. Fellows like Pauline Gödecke work precisely on these transitions. Her work has been funded by the F. Victor Rolff Foundation since the school year 2020/21.
This mission of Teach First Germany fits perfectly for Canon. "With the Young People Programme, we want to promote the creativity of young people and open up new opportunities and perspectives for them. We want to inspire and awaken the desire to make a difference ourselves. So at Teach First Germany we meet people who, like us, care about making a contribution to the common good. We are pulling together on this important rope," says Daniel Hahn, responsible for Corporate Social Responsibility and Sustainability at Canon Germany for the DACH region.
The Young People Programme has been running at Canon in Europe since 2016, and to date more than 3250 young people from over 23 countries have been supported through the programme.