Since 2015, the Canon Young People Programme has worked with charities across EMEA to give the next generation the tools and skills needed to create visual media which makes their views heard on the sustainability issues affecting their communities. After pausing due to the global pandemic, the initiative has now resumed in 2021 with the aim of reaching more young people than ever before.
In partnership with the Al Ihsan Charity Association, ten young people from underprivileged backgrounds in Amjan, UAE, took part in a series of educational workshops led by local photographer Maitham Al Aboodi. The sessions taught the participants about both the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and photography techniques which could be used to tell their own stories of what change is needed to fulfil the goals.
“I benefited a lot from the programme,” said Aya Madani, age 13, one of the participants who was loaned a Canon EOS 4000D camera. “I learned how to photograph using a camera, I became more confident in myself, and our teacher Maitham taught us that every picture you see story, every photo has a story. I really enjoyed this Canon photography course and photography has become a wonderful and beautiful hobby for me.”
The participants were tasked with putting their news skills into practice, producing work which explores the challenges faced in their communities and potential solutions. Their work covered a number of SDGs including Gender Equality, Responsible Consumption and Production, and Quality Education, with each participant using photography to show what those topics mean to them.
To recognise the participants’ progress, a ceremony will be held where they will be presented with certificates, while plans are underway to hold an exhibition showcasing their work in the hope of inspiring other young people to take sustainable action. In addition, Canon is donating five EOS 4000D cameras to the Al Ihsan Charity Association to support in future projects.
“It’s been an incredible experience to bring Canon’s Young People Programme to the UAE for the first time, overcoming the challenges of the pandemic to provide face to face support to young people in a challenging time,” said Jeanine, Sustainability Engagement Lead at Canon Middle East. “By working with the Al Ihsan Charity Association we’ve been able to help the next generation by showing them the power of visual storytelling in driving sustainable change. We’re looking forwards to continuing this partnership and donating cameras for future projects we hope to continue inspiring and nurturing the next generation of sustainability heroes.”
The Al Ihsan Charity Association will continue to work with the participants throughout the year as part of its Charity Heroes project. Various cultural and education workshops will be held, helping the participants to continue developing new skills and discover how they can make a positive impact on the world around them.
“Through our partnership with Canon we’ve been able to reach new, unique intellectual horizons and develop a more creative approach for our Heroes of Charity project and we’re excited for this cooperation to continue in the future,” said Eman Al Saadi, Executive Volunteer for Social Responsibility at the Al Ihsan Charity Association. Our goal is to nurture a sustainability-conscious generation who can plan for the future through smart, creative goals and contribute to the realisation of the country’s vision.”
Founded in 2015, the Canon Young People Programme has worked with NGOs in 27 different countries across EMEA to run educational workshops for more than 5,000 young people aged 13-21. Participants have produced work covering a wide range of issues relating to the SDGs including environmental conservation, gender discrimination and income inequality. Their photos and films have been shown at numerous exhibitions across the region, at UN events and even used in discussions with lawmakers to support in policy development.
In 2021, Canon will be expanding the Young People Programme to new regions, including Libya, Sweden, Turkey and Egypt, by using a hybrid model which combines in-person and virtual learning. Alongside managing the impacts of the global pandemic, this move will allow the initiative to become more accessible than ever before.
“While we haven’t been able to reach as many young people as we’d have liked over the past year, we’re incredibly excited to be able to expand the YPP in 2021,” said Adam Pensotti, Head of the Canon Young People Programme. “The UAE projects shows that in-person learning is still valuable, but our new hybrid approach, which allows us to combine this with virtual education where needed, means that we can tailor each project to best suit the needs of the young people taking part and reach more people than ever before.”
To learn more about the Young People Programme, please visit Canon’s website: