Somerville to Host Youth-Led Photovoice Exhibition on Problem Gambling

SOMERVILLE – The City of Somerville’s Prevention Services Division, in partnership with Cambridge Health Alliance, will host a virtual photovoice exhibition facilitated by Somerville youth to raise awareness about underage problem gambling. Photovoice is a method of exploring social issues that empowers individuals to tell a story through photography.

The event will be held on Thursday, January 28, from 5:30 to 7:00 p.m. on Zoom. Visit somervillema.gov/ProblemGambling at that time for a link to attend.

Over the last five months, as part of a program funded by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health’s Office of Problem Gambling Services, 12 Somerville participants attended workshops about youth-led community organizing, gambling in the U.S., and photography ethics to build leadership skills and inspire advocacy on problem gambling prevention efforts. For their final project, participants took photos and wrote corresponding captions to present their personal perspectives on issues related to underage problem gambling.

The trainings were facilitated by Lovelee Heller-Bottari, Somerville Cares About Prevention Program Director, and Eloise White, an intern from the Tufts Community Health program.

“We are very proud of the efforts and commitment of these very talented youth leaders,” said Heller-Bottari. “They have dedicated the last five months to deeply examining the issues connected to underage problem gambling and how they can raise awareness utilizing various photography techniques. We believe that together, we can make a difference.”

Somerville Prevention often uses photovoice to elevate youth perspectives on important public health topics, particularly through Somerville Positive Forces, a group for middle and high school students that addresses substance use prevention.

“Our team has primarily focused on substance use in the past, so this project offered us a great opportunity to proactively expand our scope of work to include underage problem gambling, an evolving concern in the addiction field,” said Prevention Services Manager Matthew Mitchell. “We really see this as a launching point for us to intentionally start raising awareness and educating our community on the potential impacts of problem gambling through youth-led efforts.”

After the virtual exhibition, the photovoice pieces will be featured on City social media and at locations throughout Somerville.

Individuals with disabilities who need auxiliary aids and services for effective communication (i.e., CART, ASL), written materials in alternative formats, or reasonable modifications in policies and procedures in order to access the programs and activities of the City of Somerville or to attend meetings should contact Nency Salamoun in advance at 617-625-6600 x2323 or NSalamoun@somervillema.gov.

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