Each school year, Yo Art is in at least a dozen Lowcountry schools, teaching hundreds of students photography, coding, filmmaking, fashion, graphic and landscape design. We do this to teach career skills and get devices like iPads, Canon cameras, and Google ChromeBooks into the hands of students who might not get a real education in technology without our organization. We teach them how to use Google Slides, Keynote, Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator, Inkscape, Alice.org, and CodePen.

And we get real feedback from the students. Ashé, an 11th grader, who was learning to upload and edit one of her own hand-drawn images into Adobe Illustrator, exclaimed, “This class makes me feel smart!” Unprompted, in the middle of the lesson.

Our instructors get plenty of hugs at the beginning and end of class every week. A fifth grader named Autumn told us, “I love photography,” and was so excited to show her images to her mother, who also loved photography but who wasn’t living with Autumn at the time. It ended up being a way for them to bond.

Another student, Harmony, said of her mother: “My mom got mad because I used her phone space to take a lot of pictures of roses. 71 pictures. I’ve always been into photography, but I had never used a camera before.

A lot of students keep it simple, after we open their minds to careers in photography and in other media arts and technology fields. Seventh grader Donnell said, “I liked what I learned and it helped me take pictures better.”

And, even more simply Yo Art gives students a place to thrive. Keon, who was in the 5th grade, said, “I liked coming to Yo Art because it helped me pull up my grade.”

For whatever reason, students love their time with Yo Art every week. We enjoy it too, and are so grateful to our grantors and supporters in the community for keeping us in the classroom.