Rosenwald High School students in Panama City, FL, no longer describe Home as a place with a physical address after experiencing Hurricane Michael, the Category 5 storm that devastated Panama City-Bay County, FL, on October 10, 2018. The Rosenwald students selected for the Photo Voice project are among the more than 2,000 students identified as homeless when school started in August.
Since Hurricane Michael, home has been family. I’ve kind of learned home isn’t a physical place. Home is who you fill your heart with. This physical stuff is temporary. You can always by a new house. You can buy a new car, new shoes, new clothes, but you can’t buy new people. People are unique. I learned that home is family. ~Blayd
Not only do students continue to deal with the aftermath of Hurricane Michael with their families, the houses across from the school that are still in disrepair are daily reminders of the destruction. And though they are back in their school, the media center is closed because repairs have not started.
WFSU-News, Tallahassee, FL, reported in October that the numbers of Bay District Schools students dealing with homelessness and/or mental health issues is a crisis. “Before the storm, Bay District Schools were looking at about 700 students that were categorized as homeless. After the storm, that number rose quickly to 5,000. This year so far with the surveys that have been collected, we’re looking at about 2,500 students and that’s not even hearing from all the families,” Rebuild Bay County, Inc., Executive Director Donna Pilson told WFSU.
Fifteen students participated in at least one of the five workshops to create their images, and ten students completed the workshop between October 25, 2019, and November 22, 2019. The Giving Voice to Give Voice to Florida Teenagers' Hurricane Stories - #42187 has completed the classroom portion of the project. After hearing their stories, and the way that their transition into adulthood is so inextricably linked to the disaster they survived, the exhibit is now named Coming of Age in the Eye of Michael.
Our first exhibit will be at the Rosenwald High School on Dec. 11, 2019, where the participating students will share some of their work with the rest of the student body. The remaining scheduled events are a full exhibition at the Panama City Center for the Arts (Jan 15-31, 2019), Arts Days in Tallahassee (Jan 22-23, 2019 pop-up exhibit), Student Legislator visits in Tallahassee (posters and interviews with legislators in support of FL SB502), and the Florida Interfaith Climate Actions Network Assembly in Orlando (March 13-14, 2019). At these events, patrons can access videos of the students talking about their art their photographs by scanning QR codes.Attachments: