The Memory Project, a non-profit organization, photographs kids facing extreme challenges in their everyday lives. High school art students then recreate the images using paint or colored pencils before sending them back to the children. Every year, the advanced art, painting, and sometimes drawing classes create portraits for underprivileged children from around the world.
24 art students were paired with 24 children from the Philippines. The students learned the name, age, and favorite color of their child, and received a head shot to base their piece off of.
Art student and sophomore Avery Harriger knows the importance of the project for children who own virtually nothing.
“It’s important to give them something that’s theirs for their whole life. That sense of ownership is very important,” Harriger said.
Ownership gives people identity. Without an identity, self esteem and ambition can be out of reach. Giving these children a portrait of themselves, something with such value, allows them to see that they matter.
The Memory Project teaches art students a valuable lesson. “This project opens up our eyes to different parts of the world, other circumstances which we haven’t ever experienced,” Harriger said.
The Memory Project is cherished by the students participating in it. They have the opportunity to see the impact that their work makes in a video which captures the moment that several children receive their portrait. In art teacher Tricia Erickson’s ten years participating in this project, she has never had a student miss the deadline.
“When I say that there is a due date for this project, it really means something,” Erickson said. She also noted that although it can be difficult for students to simply give away their hard work, they always choose to do so willingly. “The project really means something to these kids, both mine and the ones we create the portraits for.”