Young people from YMCA held an Invite only Open Evening at The Witham on 5th April 2019 to showcase all their hard work over the past year.

This project, funded by Northern Heartlands, was about encouraging young people from YMCA to get out and explore their local environment, learning about the landscape and heritage and being more active. The tool used to achieve this was photography. One which, because of social media is widely used by young people but they don’t learn about it as a skill. The project saw young people learning how to take photographs using different devices and then learning how to edit them. To celebrate their learning, the young people have then planned and will be delivering an exhibition at The Witham to showcase their work.

Rachel Dyne, YMCA Teesdale Operations Director said, “What appears to be a simple project; taking photos of their natural environment and learning how to edit them, has seen our young people walk about the local area, explore their communities being more active and getting outside. We all know that this has an impact on your mental and emotional well – being. We have seen them grow in confidence and skills, learning what happens in order to put on an art exhibition; all transferable skills.”


James, one of the young people who took part in the project said; “I enjoyed getting out and about around different places I have never been too. It was fun playing with the cameras and looking at things in a different way. It was everyday things that I walk past and now I want to take photos of them.”

Rebecca Pearson, the lead youth worker on the project from YMCA said, “It has encouraged our young people to look at things differently, think about the perception of the person looking at the photo as well as them taking the photo. There have been conversations and learning with the young people about how this can be applied to real life and how they approach situations. It’s been incredible to watch the young people grow in confidence as we have gone through the project. 

It was a pleasure to explore new parts of Teesdale and watch as the young people enjoyed more of their local landscape.”

Katie, one of the young people who took part in the project said; “I really enjoyed learning the photo editing and learning about the different ways in which you could play around with one picture and change it so much.”

Cory, one of the young people who took part in the project said; “I really enjoyed all of it but getting to know the area better, I like running around and being active. There were places I had never been or heard of before. It was great to be out and learning about the area rather than being in a classroom. I think I will feel amazed at seeing my pictures in The Witham, I didn’t think it would be possible for something I have done to be display like that.”

Reece, one of the young people who took part in the project and now a volunteer with YMCA said; “I really enjoyed all of it. I have learned how to edit photos and have enjoyed that. I felt proud that we got to pick where in The Witham the photos will be displayed and learned what happens to put on an exhibition. I am really happy to see the final result and feel proud of what I have achieved, I didn’t think I would ever have something I have done displayed in the Witham for all to see.”  

Rachel said “We, at YMCA are so proud of everything that they have all achieved. What they have produced are incredible. I would strongly suggest a visit to The Witham during the exhibition to see for yourself.”

The photos have allowed the young people to capture their landscape leaving a legacy of the project for others to enjoy. The photos show scenes from around Barnard Castle and the surrounding area captured by the young people. They are what the young people thought was important to capture. The exhibition at The Witham is open to the public for viewing from 6th April 2019 until 27th April 2019 during normal opening hours of The Witham.

To find out more about the work YMCA Teesdale do with young people of if you wish to purchase any of the pieces, please get in touch on 01833 695780.