“I first volunteered at Meadows Park Community Center for an extended format class called Youth Empowerment, and I loved how the Center served the youth,” said Colorado College senior Esther Chan. The Meadows Park Community Center, or MPCC for short, is located in Colorado Springs and dedicates itself to providing a safe community and healthy resources for teens and children in nearby communities who have been or are exposed to gangs. It also serves to engage uninvolved teenagers.

Chan, an independently designed major in Visual Media and Social Change, was aiming to produce a senior thesis video documentary about people in their social environments. She chose to focus in on role-model members Miguel, David, and Danielle, who work at the local Meadows Park Community Center, a place that has had great meaning to Chan since she first visited.

Chan was not the full-time cinematographer of her documentary, though. “About five months ago, as I started to film and follow them around, I gave Miguel, David, and Danielle cameras, so they could take pictures of their lives. I wanted them to shape their own narrative and have them develop a fresh and artistic way to view their lives,” she said.

As Chan documented the lives of her three participants, she began to understand the concerns they had about the Meadows Park Community Center, some of which could be solved by financial endeavors. That inspired Chan to kick-start a fundraising project as part of her senior thesis.

Chan organized a photo gallery to show off the work Miguel, David, and Danielle had captured on their cameras to the public. Hosted at the Cottonwood Center for the Arts during the month of March, over 250 people from Colorado Springs, CC, and MPCC came to the event.

“Miguel, David, and Danielle’s photos were sold at the event and all proceeds went to MPCC. Miguel, David, and Danielle were there to talk about the Center and educated the attendees on how they could help. We raised $760 for the Center that night,” said Chan.

Chan’s fundraising efforts will mainly be used to expand the Meadows Park Community Center’s level of accessibility.

“The money we raised for MPCC will be put into scholarships for kids who can’t afford to pay for the afterschool program or any MPCC event,” said Chan. “Miguel, David, and Danielle are all invested in creating a safe and inclusive space for all the kids in the community so it’s important for them to give access to those who can’t afford it. The money will go towards further developing their events and reaching as many people as possible in the community.”

Chan humbly points out that her thesis project, titled “In the Meadows,” was a collaborative effort made possible by CCSGA, The President’s Special Grant, CC GlobeMed, and her advisors.

Her final thesis documentary can be viewed online by searching “In the Meadows” on Vimeo.

“The creation of my senior thesis project showed me the power of community engagement and taught me that CC students need to reach into the community because we can help and learn in so many ways,” said Chan. “I was so inspired by Miguel, David, Danielle, and Meadows Park Community Center, and I only hope that students feel inspired to start projects that work with Colorado Springs.”

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