When Lakedria was 9 years old, she and her five siblings were taken away from their mother and transferred to the Kids in Distress foster homes before moving in with their grandmother in 2005.
Shortly thereafter, Lakedria’s older siblings started misbehaving and skipping school and were sent to live in group homes. Lakedria feared she would be separated from her youngest brother, DeShawn, which kept her motivated to do well in school.
“It made me think that I should be better,” said Lakedria, now 18 and a student at Boyd Anderson High School in Lauderdale Lakes. “I don’t want to be separated from him.”
Lakedria’s hard work earned her a spot in an eight-week photography curriculum from the Camera for Kids Foundation, which works with underprivileged children to teach them photography. Her photographs, alongside nine other students, will be on display Saturday at an exhibition called “Resilience” at 1310 Gallery, Sailboat Bend Artist Lofts in Fort Lauderdale. The students are members of HANDY, an organization that works with Broward’s foster children. The exhibition aims to raise awareness for the Guardian ad Litem of Broward County and Camera for Kids Foundation.
Net proceeds from the sold artwork will go toward purchasing a basic point and shoot camera, memory cards, photography printing, framing and shooting trips.
Betsey Chesler, art photographer and photojournalist, founded the Camera for Kids Foundation in Deerfield Beach in 2009. She recruits photographers who travel to a residential foster community and teach kids about photography concepts like composition, light and color.
“By the end of the eight-week sessions these kids are, what I consider, fine art photographers,” Chesler said.
Since 2009, the foundation has placed 444 point and shoot cameras in the hands of kids. Lakedria is thankful to have been one of these kids. “I don’t have my father in my life. And when other kids say ‘my parents’ I’m like, ‘It must be nice,’ ” said Lakedria.
During the eight-week session, Lakedria shot of portraits of people, still lifes and scenes around town, including from a photo shoot at F.A.T. Village in Fort Lauderdale, a contemporary art and multimedia conclave.
“I had an interest in art, but photography is something I would definitely consider now. It’s very refreshing, very different,’’ she said.
“She really has her own fashion sense, style sense and her own goals. This sometimes challenges her because she doesn’t fit a social norm of her peers,” said Cara Malave, youth development services coordinator at HANDY. “This gave her an opportunity to express her differences in a way that was normal with the rest of the group. It allowed her to bond more with the others.”