Written by OTL Volunteers on August 17 2015

Summer Workshops with the Sycuan Youth Tribal Council

 This summer, we collaborated with Movement Be on workshops for the Sycuan Youth Tribal Council. OTL’s Hilary Morefield led two workshops on basic photography and portraiture to advance the broader goal of the project with Movement Be: to have SYTC youth express their own stories and explore their identities.

Hilary expressed that: “It made so much sense to collaborate with Movement Be. Their mission and ours are very well aligned in that we both want to empower youth to tell their own stories and share their voices. Nate is teaching them how to express themselves through words, and Outside the Lens is providing a way for them to express their stories visually”.

Nate Howard is an accomplished speaker and spoken word poet who graduated from USC’s Annenberg School of Communication in 2013. He decided to contribute to bettering the way that minorities are portrayed and perceived in society. He wanted to give kids and young people tools to allow them to tell their stories from their own perspective, and to try to break down barriers posed by stigmas and stereotypes.

He started Movement Be, a nonprofit that works with youth to challenge them to let go of all the labels that have been told of them. The organization aims to create a safe environment that allows students to be vulnerable about the experiences in their lives and find the courage to decide whether they will accept the story that has been written for them, or if they will write their own.

Nate guides and facilitates talks and workshops where students learn how to express themselves and their stories through poetry and spoken word.

“I advocate that we don't adapt to society, but rather allow society be shaped through us,” Nate shared with Outside the Lens. “My only goal is to give a voice to the voiceless. My only outcome is for students to tell their story before someone else does.”

For the later stages of the projects, the students will be working on pairing the portraits they took with OTL with their poems to prepare for their final storybook project and exhibition. We look forward to sharing their final products later on!

Check out some of the student work from the workshops and more insights shared by Nate and Hilary below!

Working with OTL was great! The students at Sycuan really loved being able to learn how to use a camera. It was great to see life through their lens. -Nate

I loved getting to focus in on portraiture and self-identity and inspiring students to pull that out of themselves in this workshop. The students we worked with had never had a formal photo class before, but did a great job delving into it and examining what was around them. -Hilary





It was a multi-aged group, from middle school to high school to college students and it was great that everyone was an active participant and had a unique perspective to bring into our discussion. -Hilary

Nate is a great and genuine collaborator and was so inspiring to the students. The combination of photography and spoken word makes a great opportunity for powerful storytelling! -Hilary


To learn more about MovementBe and the work of Nate Howard: 




To see more pictures from the workshops posted by the Sycuan Youth Tribal Council on Facebook click here

To learn more about Outside The Lens’ youth outreach programs click here.

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