group of young people posing

Imaging for Good

Workshops that make a difference

Dominik Szeląg
Dominik Szeląg

Sustainability Manager Canon Poland

At Canon, our philosophy of Kyosei is deeply rooted within our business. This simply means ‘living and working together for the common good’. More than ever before the younger generation are speaking out and we want to help them be heard, to support their desire for change and to help the ‘common good’. 
Our Young People Programme (YPP) supports this activity and helps the next generation - supported by the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs) - to harness the power of visual storytelling to drive environmental and social change. 
The programme teaches young people how to take photographs, the different techniques that can be used, and most importantly, the secrets of telling stories through images. In an era of the ever-present ‘selfie’ where everything is photographed, we want to help show how an image can be elevated and how images can be used to create change. 

Young people holding UN SDG goal cards
Young People programme student sorting through photos

This year, the Young People Programme took place in Sanok, Opole, Gniezno, Gliwice and Warsaw, where a total of 70 young people - all curious about the world and with a mind full of ideas - took part in a series of one-day workshops. 

The participants received face-to-face training from two highly experienced photography professionals: 

  • Piotr Małecki (ambassador) - Freelance press photographer, director, cameraman and documentary film producer. A two-time scholarship holder of the Minister of Culture and National Heritage.
  • Marcin Jamkowski - Journalist, filmmaker and photographer specialising in expedition, popular science and exploration topics. Former editor-in-chief of National Geographic Poland, and was the head of the National Geographic international diving expedition to the Baltic shipwreck "Steuben".

One of the aims of these sessions was to help participants channel the emotional influence of Greta Thunberg and physical influence of Boyan Slatz. Both of these characters stand at two extreme poles in the fight against climate change, but they have one common goal. 16-year-old Thunberg’s powerful stigmatising the lack of environmental protection efforts by the world's largest economies and Slatz’s (without media hype) development of a patent for cleaning oceans from plastic were taken as inspiration to show how much impact the voice of young people have and that youth have the potential to change the world. 

The UN’s 17 SDGs are integral to the theme of the YPP workshops. Participants range from 13-18 and use the goals to select a global issue that they can relate to their local communities and use films and photography to reflect the problem. This year, the Polish participants chose to focus on gender inequality (Goal 5) and responsible production and consumption (Goal 12).

Group of young people sorting photos
Young People Programm participants with UN SDG goals

UN SDG Goal 5: Of particular concern for a group of young people about to enter the job market was gender inequality surrounding recruitment and the employment process. To change the situation, they first wanted to raise the profile of the problem. 

UN SDG Goal 12: Recycling was chosen as a problem that relates most commonly to their local communities and their daily lives. The participants focusing on recycling wanted to raise and show their concern over the rising cost of waste management and about the lack of information available about the difficulties in what and how to recycle different plastics. 

One of Poland’s leading CSR focused organisations, the Responsible Business Forum, recently recognised the benefits of this project, listing the Young People Programme as one of the 51 most significant business education initiatives in the country.

Although eight hours is far from enough to learn how to create professional material, but just enough time to give an insight to the thoughts of young people and the issues they experience in their own environment through their eyes. Moreover, it reveals what touches and moves them. When you’re young, having your voice heard provides an inspirational purpose. With a little support from professionals, their compassion for the world and how they see it can be turned into a visual expression. After all, this is the generation that will be looking after our planet tomorrow.

Neville Ngomane hold a piece of rhino horn after watching a dehorning

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