AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREChargers go winless in AFC West with season-ending loss in Kansas City“It’s to give them alternative means of expressing themselves, rather than violence and self-destructive behaviors,” said Elizabeth Converse, executive director of California Living Histories, a nonprofit organization that provides art and literacy programs for youngsters in Pasadena, Sierra Madre and other San Gabriel Valley cities. “It gets them out of their homes. Most of their families have both parents working or not around, or might have a negative environment, or might be foster kids,” said Converse, who was the exhibit’s project manager. Digital cameras were given to the teens, who then were taught how to download and work with the photos in a computer laboratory at John Muir High School. The participants also did their writing in the lab. “We use photography as a language,” Converse explained. “We taught them how to notice and share their visions of their own lives and communities and families. It’s visual literacy, and the kids really need a voice and need to express themselves.” Marquasha Kitchen, 13, an eighth-grader at Charles Eliot Middle School, focused on her 14-year-old friend and role model, Pasadena High School freshman Taylor Walk. The two like to chat on the phone and go to church together. “She taught me that you shouldn’t worry about when people are talking about you,” Kitchen said. “Just keep doing what you have to do and get good grades.” Kitchen expressed interest in being a National Geographic photographer when the idea of traveling to other countries to shoot pictures was presented to her. “I hope I get a camera for Christmas so I can keep taking pictures,” she said. Converse noted that some of the students involved don’t have digital cameras and computers at home like the ones made available to them during the summer course. “They are vulnerable to poverty, gang activity and poor schools,” she said. “They do not have access to this kind of technology in their homes, necessarily.” Terrell Joyce, 12, who attends Blair International Baccalaureate School, said he doesn’t think his father, Sylvester Joyce III, noticed when he took an intense close-up at Louisiana Fried Chicken & Doughnuts while they were eating. His father, a construction worker, appears sweaty, tattooed and wearing torn, white tank top. “I got to know what it felt like to be a photographer,” said Terrell, whose 18-year-old brother, C.J., also took the summer class. Converse said the $25,000 project was funded by the California Council for the Humanities, the Flintridge Foundation and the Pasadena Community Foundation, along with private donors. At 3 p.m. today, award-winning novelist and journalist Jervey Tervalon, who helped teach the summer class, will lead a panel discussion about the significance of the teens’ work. “They’re being treated as real (college) candidates, just as if they went to a magnet school,” Converse said. “They have the same innate gifts and talents, and they’re fascinating. What they have to say is absolutely mesmerizing. They’re not different than any other youth – they just don’t have the same opportunities.” [email protected] (626) 578-6300, Ext. 4496160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! Their visions are free from bullets, blood and brawls. The photographs and words that will decorate the walls of the Jackie Robinson Community Center beginning this afternoon show smiling faces, scenic views and beautiful buildings – a softer side of life in Northwest Pasadena as seen through the eyes of 25 of the area’s teenagers. In the past year, the city’s troubled northwest corner has been riddled with gang activity and multiple homicides. The last week of September alone saw the murders of two young people, including a 17-year-old boy. But the exhibit, titled, “New Words-New Visions,” the culmination of an intensive five-week writing and photography class, is a welcome ray of sunshine in an area sometimes viewed as gloomy and dangerous.