An Innisfail photographer is giving a platform to young central Albertans so they can speak about their mental health amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Erika Fetterly, owner of EFP Studios Inc., recently launched the Let Them Have A Voice campaign, where 22 youths took part in a free photoshoot and answered a series of questions about how difficult the past year has been mentally.
“There’s an old saying: ‘Kids should be seen not heard.’ Well we want kids to be seen and heard,” said Fetterly.
“I wanted to give these kids a chance to express themselves and tell us more about what this last year has been like for them and the impact it’s had on their lives.”
Chatting with the young central Albertans was an “amazing and eye-opening” experience, said Fetterly.
“They all have such different personalities and different stances on the last year. Some have a positive outlook and have become their own best friend, some are having a hard time with sports being taken away from them or had loved ones pass away,” she said, adding the participants are from various communities, including Red Deer and Stettler.
Fetterly posted an open call on Facebook to find participants. The youths, who ranged from seven to 17 years old, chose their own attire for the photoshoot.
“The kids got the opportunity to fully express themselves through what they wanted to look like in the photos. Some kids came in baggy hoodies, some came in dance outfits, some came in hockey gear, … it truly was about letting them have a voice. We wanted their voice to shine through,” she said.
Fetterly said youths have missed out on a lot this past year, including sports, dance, gymnastics, and personal time with friends and loved ones.
“They’re being told what’s what, even adults are being told what’s what by the government as well, but kids really don’t have a say. A lot of times they may not have the ability to fully process why these restrictions are happening,” she said.
Fetterly said she hopes to have another round of youths participate in the campaign.
To read about the youths participating in the Let Them Have A Voice campaign, visit www.efpportraiture.com/blog.