The 16-year-old junior at St. John's College High School in Northwest Washington was named one of two top youth volunteers in the District by the Prudential Spirit of Community Awards.
Tell me about the project that won you the award, Project SnapShot.
It started with an idea that there are kids who don't get pictures when other kids would, [like] when they go to the mall [to see] Santa. I thought maybe I should try to take pictures and give them to those who don't have the means ... and give them out for free. Me and my friend, we started working with the police department, taking pictures of different events they have. They have holiday parties -- so they have a police officer dressed up as Santa Claus -- or Halloween, when [the kids] come in their costumes.
What do you do with the photos?
I print them out on-site, and I may or may not make a video, too, with pictures and music.
Why do you spend so much time volunteering?
When I was growing up, I had severe dyslexia, couldn't read a lick. I went to a [school where] they taught me how to read, and I got help. I decided I wanted to give some of that help back, so I do that through photography.
What events have stood out?
This past Christmas, I took photos of families with Santa. Then two years ago, I took pictures at the courthouse for [a rehabilitation program for mothers]. They were graduating from the program, and I took pictures with the mothers and their children.
Why did those events stand out?
That was basically my main message of the whole Project SnapShot -- pictures they get to keep for the rest of their lives that they normally wouldn't get because they couldn't afford the means of getting them.
- Rachel Baye