Young Photographers Round Out Community Health Needs Assessment

A photovoice project participant photo from an unusual perspective - the underside of playground equipment

A picture truly is worth a thousand words, at least the way Children’s Hospital Los Angeles uses it.

Like many hospitals and health organizations, Children’s conducts periodic Community Health Needs Assessments (CHNA) to keep its finger on the pulse of the needs, wants, and challenges that face the population it serves.

In this case, that mostly means children. And through the hospital’s 2022 Community Health Needs Assessment Youth Photovoice Project, more than 150 young Angelenos got to communicate their own sense of the welfare of their neighborhoods though the lens of a camera.

Photovoice is a participatory method of data collection, offering L.A. County youth an exciting opportunity to participate in the CHNA and help shape the future of their communities. The idea is simple: an awareness that a community’s strengths and needs should be identified by those who live there. And because Photovoice is open to anyone with a camera, it can showcase perspectives not often prioritized.

The youths whose photos with self-authored captions helped to supplement the most recent CHNA are generally not accomplished photographers. The camera is merely a tool to help them shine a light on what they see as the important issues in their communities, encourage them to impact what they see, and encourage them to continue thinking about the health of their community.

  • An 11 year-old snapped his friend on the monkey bars, commenting, "This resource is importance to me because it allows me to play with my friend while doing something I enjoy a lot.”
  • Wrote one 16 year-old who submitted a close-up of a broken glass bottle on a playground: “I took these pictures because they show what needs to change. The subject affects my health and the health of the community because there is no care and hopefully [this] brings attention to the problem.”
  • A 17 year-old celebrated the importance of the West San Gabriel Valley Boys & Girls Club, writing, “It gives the youth a safe place to learn, have fun and grow. From this I've built great relationships and have been through great experiences.”

In addition to informing the conclusions of the CHNA, the 500 plus photos taken by these community conscious youth, from fifth-graders to young adults, can be viewed in an online photography exhibit called “Through My Lens! Elevating the Voices of LA County Youth through Photovoice.”

Resources on the Role of Hospitals