Change in Perspective

A mentoring program for middle-school boys builds relationships by making movies.
Sunday, August 23, 2009

Anthony Wright is learning that life can depend on how you frame it. He is an Alexandria middle-schooler participating in the city's iMovie Mentors program. Each year, the project matches male mentors, including photographer Alexey Tolchinsky, with 10 to 12 at-risk boys -- who might be having trouble in school or lack a positive male influence. The mentor-student pairs meet weekly from April through December to form relationships, make video documentaries and work on life skills such as anger management and problem-solving. In late spring, Anthony, Alexey and the other participants spent a weekend at Camp Kekoka in Virginia's Northern Neck, where they built bonds from breakfast to bonfire. Between working on their filming, the boys fished, swam, kayaked and drenched one another with water balloons. Anthony, 13, recorded the life around him, capturing joyous action shots of a fellow camper snagging a Frisbee and of a dog eagerly fetching a stick. In December, the boys will screen their documentaries at an Academy Award-like program at Old Town Theater -- stretch limos, red carpet, cheering crowds and all.

-- Elizabeth Chang

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