As we celebrate World Environment Day, it's important to shine a light on companies using their power and reach for good. Canon and its Young People program in South Africa has been working with Mike Kendrick, the founder of the local non-profit organization Wild Shots Outreach. Together, they've been teaching wildlife photography to young people in local black communities to help them embrace their natural heritage and protect local biodiversity.
The Wild Shots Outreach program prioritizes high school students from government schools bordering Kruger National Park, one of Africa's largest game reserves. Despite their proximity, the majority of local young people living next to the reserve have never visited it or seen the wildlife it houses. This is due to the lingering impact of apartheid, expensive entry fees and the lack of transport.
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Working with Canon ambassadors, Mike Kendrick trains students and unemployed young people in wildlife photography. Each course consists of five workshop sessions culminating in a game drive in a game reserve. At the end of thee course, students are presented with certificates and prints of their photos. In addition, each school also receives a camera so that the students can continue to use their new skills.
Wild Shots Outreach addresses the need for more young people to experience the wildlife and wild places that they previously had little or not access to. By supporting young South Africans in this way, WSO and Canon's YPP are able to help them access their wildlife heritage and develop employment skills in wildlife conservation and tourism through photography.
However, as well as helping young people from disadvantaged communities, the project's additional hope is that "the battle for conservation can be won by sharing the beauty and value of South Africa's wildlife with all of its citizens."
Alumni from Kendrick's courses have been successful in pursuing a career in photography and wildlife conservation, with their images being showcased in several exhibitions. See some of their incredible work below, and to find out more about this worthy cause, check out the Wild Shots Outreach website.
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