Who says Photography is only about clicking images! Well, it is also a medium to reform. Most of the youth in Washington D.C. are exposed to gang violence from an early age however an alternative with a different kind of shooting has been found and an amazing one at that. The “Don’t Shoot Guns, Shoot Camera (DSGSC)” program aims to keep youngsters away from violence by teaching them to shoot cameras and not guns.

The program is founded by the comedian and filmmaker Rodney “Red” Grant who, using his 20 years of experience in the entertainment industry, created this Social and Emotional Learning(SEL) based program. The DSGSC program includes an immersive 2-week camp which teaches the underserved youth positive ways to express themselves channelling their energy into camera-work, creative writing and film production.

“Our mission is to develop the social and emotional skills of Washington D.C.’s underserved youth by introducing them to the fundamentals of filmmaking, equipping them with a healthy and creative way to express themselves and positively impact their communities,” DSGSC’s mission statement reads.

The program educates the students (12-17 years) the fundamental camera skills while incorporating values like self-awareness, self-management, decision making, relationship skills and social awareness in them. DSGSC aims to inculcate technical skills in the students, making them capable of creatively expressing themselves by the time they complete the program.

Rodney Grant started the program after the death of his nephew Keaway Ivy, an aspiring rapper and a talented filmmaker, originally planned to be partnered with local schools. However, he eventually launched a small program due to the distance learning in the COVID pandemic.

“These kids don’t deserve guns in their hands. They don’t deserve people not believing in them. They got to have more people believing in them.” says Grant.

Six students from the program collaborated over Zoom to create a short film titled “The Store” where they worked on a ten-page script and then got to work out the shooting which included actor Anwan “Big G” Glover and former NBA player Matt Barnes. The film premiered to a limited audience online.DSGSC is currently in the process of raising $50000 in donations which will help them spread the program in Miami, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York and Atlanta. One can make donations here.