ProjectFocus exhibit to debut this Sunday

Published: Aug. 27, 2010 at 11:49 AM HST|Updated: Aug. 27, 2010 at 12:52 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - ProjectFocus is a program that shows kids to express themselves through photography. But the experience isn't just about art. This year, organizers partnered with HUGS to teach kids more about their subjects and themselves.

Jayvell Burns and Ikeja Morris share a unique bond. Both have younger brothers with life-threatening illnesses.

Jayvell says "he (brother, Sky, age 14) has pulmonary atresia, which means he was born with only one chamber in his heart so he will have to do checkups at least once a month."

Ikeja says "he (brother, Elijah-John, age 12) had Birkett's lymphoma when he was four... and he got it again when he was 11."

Through Project Focus, they and 12 other hugs members learned basic photography skills, using their siblings as their subjects.

"He likes skateboarding, so we took a lot of his favorite location, which is the skate park," Ikeja explains. "I have to say something that he always laughed at when he was little and he'd laugh and I'd try to take a picture as soon as he did."

"I made him pretend like he was reading a bible and at the beach," Jayvell says. "What I liked about it was that it was something he enjoyed doing which was glorifying God."

Starting Sunday, their photographs will be displayed in a special exhibit at Macy's Ala Moana. They even got new outfits for the big debut.

"Our parents have so many other things going on that sometimes our sibings don't get that special attention that they need," says Sherri Vallejo, HUGS volunteer coordinator. "Some of them were like, 'Oh what about my brother or sister?' No, this is for you!"

But they know all too well that living in the moment is far more important that saving it with a photograph. "It frightens me whenever we're someplace without my parents that if something does happen or he gets hurt or something... that I'm the one responsible for him," Jayvell says. "It scares me a lot and I think I have to overcome that fear and just be there for him when he needs me."

Important lessons that normally take a lifetime to learn.

Ikeja says, "Be happy with what you have because it can go away as soon as tomorrow so just to like yeah, just make sure you care for what you have and love them as they are."

ProjectFocus Hawaii
2010-11 Exhibit Schedule

  • August 30-September 7: Macy's Ala Moana
  • September 7-25: The Arts at Marks
  • September 28-October 6: Kahala Mall
  • October 7-20: Davies Pacific Center
  • October 20-November 5: Kapiolani Medical Center for Women & Children
  • November 5-15: Punahou School, Thurston Chapel
  • January 10-28, 2011: Honolulu Hale

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