COMMENTARY | Thanks to the Pablove Foundation's Shutterbug program, children with cancer can refocus on something outside of their illness. Distractions are hard to come by when after such a devastating diagnosis, so this program is truly amazing.
Pablove Foundation founders Jo Ann Thrailkill and her husband Jeff Castelaz started the foundation in 2008 to raise money for pediatric cancer research. Sadly their youngest son, Pablo, died in 2009 from a rare form of childhood cancer. He was only six years old.
"What we realized about Pablo was that, when he passed away, every possible photo we could find that he took or that he was in -- became very, very precious to us," Jeff said in an MSNBC report. Now, with the help of their friend Catherine Berclaz the Pablove Shutterbug program was created to extend the reach of this foundation right into the heart of the children afflicted with cancer.
When your child is sick, everything about your world changes. Personally I've been through the wringer like this with my family. Life suddenly revolves around medical appointments, tests, and treatments while attempting to keep the rest of the balls in the air so to speak. The Shutterbug Program reaches in beyond all that and talks directly to the child. Teaching kids the art and science of photography may not seem like much, but there is something very special about treating kids as normal for a change.
Kids with cancer spend a lot of time waiting and hoping, while photography has the power to freeze time if for just a split second. I love what Bell said in an MSNBC video: "This enables them if they wish to remove themselves outside of their current situation and play with those split seconds on their terms." Putting the power back into their hands is priceless.
A recent post on the Daily Nightly on MSNBC.com, 12 year old Layne Simkins is highlighted as one of the grateful recipients of the Pablove Shutterbug program. Layne was diagnosed with leukemia last year yet despite battling fatigue he was able to learn about technique, visuals, colors and subject matter, everything but the elephant in the room.
The gift of a brand new focus on life is cultivated through the donation of a digital camera and work with a photography mentor. Learning a skill when life is seemingly unraveling and everything is becoming more and more difficult is truly an amazing gift and I would love to see this extended into different realms.