Kids in Focus participants visited the Scottsdale museum where their photography will be exhibited (submitted photo).

A new art exhibition will feature the art created by local youth who have lived at or below the poverty line — many of them experiencing homelessness. Through the art of photography, “Kids in Focus: A New Lens on Life” allows children to create connections with trusted mentors and reframe the way they see their world, building confidence, resilience, and hope.

Western Spirit: Scottsdale’s Museum of the West will host the Kids in Focus exhibit. The Phoenix nonprofit organization is dedicated to giving at-risk youth the chance to see themselves and the world in a new light, equipping them with essential life skills to make the shift from surviving to thriving. During the 9-week afterschool program, local photographers become mentors to the kids, building trusting relationships as they travel all over the Valley exploring and taking images.

Upon completing this initial program, the kids keep their cameras and become members of the Grads in Focus and Junior Mentor programs, which keep kids actively engaged for several years, through high school and beyond.

“When kids experience trauma, they disconnect from the world and themselves. A camera in these kids’ hands, with the right guidance and encouragement, ignites imagination and can switch the light in their eyes back on, giving them confidence and the resilience they need to overcome the challenges they face,” said Karen Shell, founder and executive director of the nonprofit.

The exhibit will run through Dec. 30. For more information, visit or


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