“Lights, camera, slow down” in Latvia
“Lights, camera, slow down”
It was an Erasmus+ Youth Exchange project co-funded by EU, implemented in Tukums, Latvia, “Baltijas Reģionālais fonds” on 13-20/8/2023 . The project focused on youth mental health, well-being and self-reflection through photography.
The aim is to provide youth with the tools to improve their mental well-being, boost self-confidence and develop creative thinking skills using digital and visual methods, especially photography. During the youth exchange participants reflected on their well-being, values and habits, develop skills in photography and explore it as a tool for self-reflection, dealing with stress, communicating emotions and ideas. We spent time in nature, analyse photos, learn creative photography techniques etc. A big part of the project is developing digital skills, such as visual communication and responsible use of digital technologies in order to improve mental health. PRAXIS have sent 6 Participants, with an interest in photography, creative self-expression and mental well-being.
During the 8 inspiring days in Tukums, Latvia, immersed in a photography-focused program,
creativity knew no bounds. The picturesque landscapes and vibrant culture acted as catalysts, igniting our imaginative flames. Through the lens, we captured not only the beauty of our surroundings but also delved into the realm of mental well-being.
The interplay between photography and mental health became evident as we explored new perspectives, framing both the outer world and our inner selves. These transformative days underscored the profound connection between artistic expression, the enchantment of Latvia, and nurturing our emotional resilience.
This program was an amazing experience that provided us with many valuable gifts. One of
the most significant aspects we gained from it was the deep relationships we formed with other young people from various countries. The exchanges of perspectives, discussions, and shared activities brought us together into a strong network of friends and collaborators.
Additionally, we acquired valuable knowledge about mental health and the proper use of digital tools to support it. The activities we participated in, such as photography exercises and our visit to the capital city Riga, inspired us to create a beautiful digital photo exhibition centered around the mental health of young people.
Our experience of spending time in nature and engaging in activities there was exceptionally
interesting. It inspired us to establish a connection with nature, discover our well-being within it, and express ourselves creatively. Overall, this program offered us a unique opportunity to learn, forge friendships, and positively contribute to our community through art and raising awareness about mental health.
Through the Erasmus+ youth exchange of “Camera, Lights, Slow down!” I learnt a lot about
mental health and different aspects of it as well as ways of confronting it in a healthy way. I also learned about photography and how take a picture with a good composition.
Me and my team experimented a lot with different angles and shots so we can achieve photos with a different point of view. I learnt about the history of Latvia , France , Spain and Lithuania and a lot of fun facts about them through the Kahoot! quizzes.
I would like to personally thank Praxis and Anna for letting me participate in this once in a lifetime experience which I will never forget and my Greek team which helped me organize a beautiful Greek international night filled with dances, local food and trivia.
I’m glad I shared my mental health experiences and I heard a lot of stories from other people too and turns out more than one person could understand what I have been through in the past. We had so much fun going on walks through the forest going to the beach making movies with pictures and also organizing a photography exposition which was held in a nearby village and many locals had the chance to see it.
We delivered a message through our photos and I’m honesty really proud of it and if I could go back, I wouldn’t change a thing.
This project further reinstates my opinion that more youth around Europe and Greece should join more projects so they can learn a lot of competences and have wonderful experiences that if not for Erasmus and Praxis it wouldn’t be I never lived them.
Daniel Alejandro Pozo Aranda
During the exhilarating 7-day Erasmus youth exchange in Latvia focused on photography and
mental health, I embarked on a transformative journey that melded artistic exploration with profound self-discovery.
Against the picturesque backdrop of Latvia’s scenic landscapes, I delved into the realms of photography, capturing raw emotions and intricate details that reflected the intricate interplay between mental health and the world around us. The workshops and interactions with fellow participants from diverse backgrounds enriched my perspective, not only on the art of photography but also on the universal nuances of mental well-being. Each day presented an opportunity to hone my technical skills while also delving into the intricate dialogue surrounding mental health.
Collaborative projects intertwined these themes, as we used our lenses to narrate stories that resonated with personal struggles and triumphs. Engaging discussions and activities facilitated an open exchange of thoughts, nurturing empathy and understanding among us. Through these interactions, I learned that photography can serve as a powerful channel to convey emotions, break stigma, and initiate important conversations.
The Erasmus exchange in Latvia left an indelible mark on my artistic journey and my perception of mental health. It reinforced the idea that art can transcend mere aesthetics, becoming a tool for change and growth. As I returned home with a enriched portfolio and a broader mindset, I carried with me not only the captivating images I had captured, but also a heightened sense of social responsibility to raise awareness about mental health through my work.
Moments, emotions, laughs, countless new images, new stories and new people. This opportunity that was given to us through the program «Lights, Camera, Action» and the 8 days we spent in Latvia was an unquestionably positive experience. Photography and mental health are two interrelated topics with folds in our every step.
The activities we did during the program definitely sharpened our intellectual horizons as they left us richer in knowledge. We learned photography techniques and the most important is that we received help and guidance to deal with everyday difficulties.
Since the topic was mental health, we put a lot of emphasis on protecting at first our mental shielding and then to strengthen our relationships with those around us. We socialised, definitely though we learned more aspects of ourselves. The opportunity that was presented to us ought to be considered as a starting point for young people who not only want to discover the world but themselves as well.
The PRAXIS organization that hosted us and gave us this opportunity made this trip easier and safer. Experience with a positive mono sign Photography and mental health are two topics that are perfectly intertwined with aspects at every step of the way. The opportunity that was given to us only made us better and ”richer”.
My journey to Latvia has just ended and l am back home thinking of this beautiful experience that has helped me evolve as a person, as a European citizen and as a Greek citizen. The Erasmus project ‘Lights, Camera, Action’.
Was a great opportunity to be among peers, who came from different countries but eventually became good companions that shared the same interests, fears, thoughts, habits with me. Through the workshops and the cultural nights, we learnt what it means to be a European Citizen and there are so many things that unite us, all these things that make us be the same but different at the same time.
During the project we learnt to appreciate the beautiful Latvian landscape that surrounded us, the power of nature that helps us slowdown from the crazy way of life, get the peace of mind we need to help cure and take care of our bodies and minds. We learnt to identify and explore our feelings and depict them in photography. The sea and the forest calmed our feelings, our unnecessary rush and anxiety.
Our Latvian hosts were very hospitable and caring, did their best to make us live at home, shared their way of life, tradition and home economics. I want to thank them all. I also want to thank all the people that organized the project for what they taught me and their care and love for all of us that took part in the project.