College of DuPage Photography Department in Partnership with Easterseals DuPage & Fox Valley Announces 19th Anniversary Photography Exhibition
On October 17th, 20 families from Easterseals DuPage & Fox Valley will be featured in the 19th Annual Photography Exhibition. For the last 19 years, the College of DuPage (COD) Photography Department has partnered with them to showcase the beauty and daily lives of children with special needs.
In 2000, Terry Vitacco, Professor of Photography and Coordinator of the Photography Program at the College of DuPage, agreed to have her Visual Storytelling students photograph Easter Seals children. “I saw this as a great vehicle for them to have a meaningful, real world assignment for their final project,” said Vitacco.
Every spring, COD Visual Storytelling students are paired with children from Easterseals and photograph the daily lives of the families to document the challenges and accomplishments of children with different disabilities by creating photo essays with their still images. In addition, they produce short movies about their subjects to be shown on the COD i-Site Photography website and Easterseals' website. The photos are also entered into a juried competition and the selected images are showcased as large format prints for the exhibit.
“Ever since the first show in 2000, the exhibit continues to grow,” Vitacco says. “Because there are more families that want to participate than there are students, I ask past students to participate. We call them our 'Special Forces' photographers and in this way, everyone can be accommodated.”
The exhibit itself not only brings joy to the families being photographed, but also brings awareness to those who have never experienced the world of special needs children.
Students get to know the family and become friends with the child they are photographing. This helps breaks down stereotypes and increases understanding about families with special needs children.
“We are thankful for this collaboration with College of DuPage,” Theresa Forthofer, President & CEO, said. “These photos showcase each child’s unique personality. Through these photos you can see a child’s sense of humor or favorite activity and you realize that they are just like every other child.”
“I think the most important thing my students learn by doing the Easterseals project is that their photography really makes a difference,” says Vitacco. “The families that see the photos hanging in the Easterseals centers are encouraged and heartened that their child is enjoying life despite their challenges.”
The exhibition will be held on Wednesday, October 17th at College of DuPage. At the conclusion of the event, the photos will be brought to Easterseals centers in Villa Park, Naperville and Elgin to be hung in each lobby. Easterseals is continuously grateful for the partnership with the COD Photography Department.
To learn more about Visual Storytelling at COD, contact Terry Vitacco at email@example.com. The next Visual Storytelling class will be held in the Spring 2019 semester. Register early to be part of this enlightening humanitarian project.
See a movie about the 16th anniversary Easter Seals Exhibit:
See a video about the Easter Seals Project on the Silicon & Silver blog.
Chicago's ABC Channel 7's News TV piece
about the Easter Seals Project.