Giving Compass’ Take:
• Steven Hazlett explains how he has seen photography make a difference for ill children, particularly those living with cancer.
• How can funders help to bring photography and other art forms to children living with cancer? What children in your area are in the most need of extra support?
• Learn more about arts for youth living with cancer.
Steven, you have taught photography to children in the healthcare system (specifically those living with cancer) for the past three years. How did you get into this line of work?
Teaching was something I had never considered before, but when I got involved with the Pablove Foundation’s Shutterbugs program as an assistant in 2013, the experience changed me. The local teaching artist I had worked with was looking for a replacement and suggested that I apply, and it’s been a blessing ever since. As a pediatric cancer survivor myself, it has been a dream come true to give back, especially in the realm of photography, which inspired me to reconnect with the world after my cancer.
What do you find most challenging about your teaching? Most rewarding?
The most challenging aspect would have to be time. I always wish I had more time with my students, not just to see them grow as learners, but to see them succeed and evolve as people. To overcome the obstacles that life has thrown at them, and to inspire others to do the same. Cancer is an isolating experience that can leave you feeling disconnected from the life you once knew, and it’s a feeling that you’re forced to live with long after remission. The beautiful thing about photography is it changes all of that. It reconnects you with the world in a new way, and bridges the gaps that once left you lost. The changes that my students encounter through photography are monumental, and I’m fortunate enough to see that change in a matter of weeks through programs like the Pablove Shutterbugs program. By the fifth week at graduation, I see brave new people who are ready to take on anything; embracing life with the love and strength they thought they never had. This is by far the most gratifying and rewarding experience I could ever ask for, and I’m so grateful to be able to play a small part in that.
As a teaching artist, how does the work you do with youth inform your own artistry?
I’m constantly learning from my students, as they are a huge source of inspiration for me. I love their explorative nature, and the sincerity that is so refreshingly evident in their work. But what inspires me most of all is their fearlessness. Photography is a powerful tool, and they wield it like a sword. Their camera is a badge of honor that allows them to be brave in their new world—which is huge for them. Their virtues are limitless, and constantly remind me how lucky I am to teach with them.
Read the full interview with Steven Hazlett about photography and cancer patients by Ms. Jane Cheung at Americans for the Arts.
If you are looking for more articles and resources for Inspiring Stories, take a look at these Giving Compass selections related to impact giving and Inspiring Stories.
Are you ready to give?
If you are interested in Arts and Culture, please see these relevant Issue Funds, Charitable Organizations or Projects where you can get involved.