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The surprising impact of our photo wall!

Lower Lights' Bright Lights Kids program focuses on serving at-risk youth primarily by encouraging healthy relationships, providing educational enrichment, and really just giving them a safe space to belong. The program welcomes dozens of new faces each year! Some join our family at a fairly young age, and stay with us all throughout high school, whereas others simply may have joined us for a summer camp. Even if they’ve only joined us for a little while, chances are, they can find their smiling face in a photograph in the office of the program director, Alex Mazzocco.

In Alex’s office, an array of beautiful images displaying the joys of the program coat her wall. Photos of kids supporting one another at their sports games, learning with their tutors, or sharing popsicles on the porch. The beauty and transformative power of the program is overwhelmingly obvious when faced with these walls.

The kids absolutely love her tradition and find so much excitement in pointing out their faces and remembering joyful days.

This is particularly special because it’s common that many of our children may not feel safe at home and disassociate feelings of joy or belonging with their home. That’s part of how this wall is healing. It’s two 8 by 10 ft signs that yell “You have a place here! You’re a part of something good!”

When the kids are having fun together, they’ll sometimes suggest taking a photo just because they know where it will end up. Some of them play in a basketball sports league through Gladden Community House and ended up coming in second place in the tournament a few weeks ago. In their celebration, several of the kids exclaimed “Let’s take a photo for the wall!” So they did. One of the kids saw someone else taking their team photo and said “Alex! He’s taking one for his picture wall!” She continued to ask if he thought he had one, to which he responded, “Maybe, but I bet he doesn’t have as many pictures as you do.”

This wall serves many purposes, another is its ability to stir up remembrance. All who join the ministry are able to be reminded of different stories of transformation that seemed impossible, how far someone has come over the years, or even a reminder to reach out to or pray for a certain child. It gives hope, and encourages leaders to keep on going!

Alex, the Bright Light Kids program director says, “The pictures on the walls are there to show the people who chose to look, what transformed lives can look like, if we give it a chance. If we put the time, the effort, the love, the grace, and forgiveness into our relationships, what those can look like. If we allow Jesus to do what only He can do, we can see and experience transformation. It’s truly amazing. It’s healing and freeing. It’s beautifully done. It’s chaotic and hard, but the pure joy and genuine laughter that comes from it is totally worth it.”

These kids belong, and real change is happening!

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