March is Problem Gambling Awareness Month! On jueves, marzo 12 at 5:30 p. m., the community will come together for Photovoice, a youth-focused problem gambling photo exhibit led by students from South End Middle School (SEMS) in Springfield. This event will be held at 5:30 p. m. at Valley Venture Mentors, 276 Bridge Street, Springfield.

Students at SEMS will tell a story and advocate for change through a series of photographs reflective of what they view as issues in their community tied to gambling prevention. They will present a call to action and ask for community partners to help in making their voices heard.

Photovoice utilizes a youth-centered, participatory approach to engage local youth to help prevent problem gambling. Through this process, students received education on social justice, advocacy, public speaking, and gambling. Students applied their newly gained knowledge to capture photographs within their community and engage in group reflection to create calls to action around underage gambling. The final outcomes of this project will be on display at the community exhibition with local artists in attendance to highlight their experience.

The two main goals of this state-funded project were to prevent or reduce underage gambling and problem gambling among youth, as well as help youth develop and maintain the healthy lifestyle needed to ensure that they won’t develop problems with gambling.

The youth-led gambling prevention Photovoice project is made possible through the partnership of Gándara Center, South End Middle School, and the Latino Education Institute of Worcester State University. It is funded by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health’s Office of Problem Gambling Services.

Community members are encouraged to attend, engage with the students, help our youth see the powerful potential of their voices, and enjoy light refreshments with these young photographers.