Design4Kids Workshop 7 Scheduled for January 14 -22

Design4Kids workshops team talented, yet disadvantaged, youth with art, business, and communication professionals to work with local charities in solving design challenges. We are currently recruiting participants for the next workshop in beautiful Santiago Atitlan, Guatemala this January 2012.

Learn how you can participate by clicking on the Get Involved link. Learn about the January workshop by clicking on the Join the Next Workshop link.

Personal Logotype Design by Kevin

Outside view of trifolio design for Hospitalito Atitlan. When folded the far right vertical third becomes the front cover, the center vertical third is the back cover, and the left vertical third folds to the inside and is revealed when the braochure is opened.

Inside view of the brochure design for Hospitalito Atitlan.

Students Serve Local Hospital for D4K6

D4K6 is off a good start. As we posted previously, our client is Hospitalito Atitlan, the only hospital to serve the Maya community of Santiago Atitlan. The workshop began Monday morning with an interview of  hospital staff to determine their communication needs.

Dr. Semana Answers the Students Questions

Students Ask the Doctor and Hospital Staff Questions

After the client interview the students debriefed and began the creative process.

Jane Works With a Storyboard Comp

Mentor Cathy, Explains Project Management Concepts To Students

Mentor Eric Discusses Organizing a Shot List

Learning About the Origins of Type With Wooden Type and Block Printing

Since many Design4Kids project clients are underfunded charities unable to afford quality printing of their projects, Design4Kids has begun a fund to provide matching funds. If you’re interested in contributing to the printing fund for this and future Design4Kids workshop projects. Visit the SupportUs page on this site for full instructions.

Students to Serve Hospitalito Atitlan this June

We’re thrilled to announce that all the mentor spots are filled for this June, and that again the client will be Hospitalito Atitlan.  They are the only hospital to serve the Maya community of the village where we conduct all our Guatemala workshops,  Santiago Atitlán. We first worked with them in December of 2009 with a poster project that designed to combat type 2 diabetes. This time the challenge will be to write, illustrate, and design, in one short week, an health information brochure for young mothers.

HDR Stu leads the class in high dynamic range photography.

Since the hospital itself is an underfunded charity, and does not have funds for printed materials, for the first time in Design4Kids history, we are raising funds to cover the costs of printing the finished brochures. This will amount to  win-win-win. The students will get the real-world experience of taking a project from conception through to final production. Hospitalito Atitlan will be able to educate young mothers while conserving precious financial resources. And the community of Santiago Atitlan will benefit from the health information distributed in the brochure.

If you’re interested in contributing to the printing fund for this and future Design4Kids workshop clients. Visit the SupportUs page on this site for full instructions.

Photos from Honduras Workshop

Fotokids graduate, and Design4Kis alumnus, Werner, instructs twins Danny and Denny in the use of a Nikon DSLR.

Werner Montorosso instructs young student as instructors, Stu and Eric look on.

Students take the bus to visit their client's establishment.

Camilo and another student outside the Guaruma classroom.

Photographs by David Ixbalan

Meet Nancy McGirr – Inspiration Behind Design4Kids

Portrait of Nancy McGirr

Nancy McGirr with several of the Santiago Fotokids.


On the eve of the 3rd Design4Kids workshop, and after a week of running bio’s of the volunteers and founder, it seems fitting to feature the woman who inspired, and enables the work we do.

Photographer, journalist, educator, and for much of the 1980s, war correspondent, Nancy McGirr is no stranger to anguish. Covering the conflicts in Central America for the Reuters news agency, she saw her fair share of suffering. Going from barrio to barrio to tell the unfolding drama of conflict, she often noticed deplorable conditions and “thought someone needs to do something about that.”

Then in the early 1990s she was in Guatemala covering a different kind of war. Aware that the Guatemala City dump was home to an entire community of people who subsisted entirely off what they could gather there and decided to do a story and bring the situation into the light. Working on her story she met many of the deeply impoverished residents. And naturally she met their children. It was heartbreaking to see the conditions these kids faced. Born into generations of extreme poverty, their opportunities looked bleak.

With the encouragement of local nuns Nancy decided to teach these kids something that she herself knew very well, photography. By putting cameras in their hands and teaching them how to use them, she gave them a different way of seeing, and a way of expressing what they saw. And they saw a lot, relatives sniffing glue, rooms torn up after a drunken rampage. Without exposure to television or other media they shot without preconceived notions, or self censorship. Their raw and powerful work soon won the group recognition. Their photography began to be shown in international exhibits, and a book was published entitled “Out of the Dump.”

Photo of Nancy Working

Nancy working during D4K2

What began in 1991 as a 6 month photo project is still thriving 18 years later. Hundreds of very poor kids have been profoundly affected by their involvement with Nancy’s group now known as Fotokids. Many of the kids from the original group have now graduated from college and now volunteer teaching the younger ones.

Learn much more about Fotokids by visiting their website or by watching this terrific 17 minute documentary video..

Ed. Note: Beginning Monday December 7th, we will be blogging student content once-a-day, every day during Design4Kids Workshop 3 which runs through Saturday the 13th.

Countdown to Worskhop 3 – Meet Jeff Speigner, Founder

Photo by Stu Estler

Jeff helps Camilo with a lens cleaning lesson. Photo by Stu Estler

Hi, my name is Jeff Speigner. I’m the founder, director, and volunteer coordinator for Design4Kids. I also have a paying gig as a graphic designer for a large aerospace manufacturer where I have worked for more than 25 years. One of the benefits of working for a Fortune 100 company this long is that I get enough vacation time to travel abroad and experience other cultures each year.

Originally trained as a photographer, I love making pictures, and have always made that activity a big part of my journeys. For several years I sold my travel images in summer art fairs and festivals across the Western United States. After winning a “People’s Choice Award” in 2005 I began looking for ways to use my talents to help people. After doing several fund-raising photo exhibits for worthy organizations in Asia, where I had traveled a lot, I came to learn about the work of two inspirational photographers using their talents to help kids in a direct and interactive way.

I was deeply touched when I encountered the story of photojournalist and former Reuters war correspondent Nancy McGirr who began a 6-month project teaching photography to kids living in the Guatemala City dump. 18 years later Fotokids has lifted hundreds of kids out of poverty. As soon as I saw the work of those kids and read Nancy¹s story knew I had to somehow work with them.

About the same time I met the renowned humanitarian photographer Phil Borges who founded Bridges to Understanding. Bridges teaches kids how to use photography and digital technology to tell meaningful stories in movie form and connect with peers all over the world. When Phil told me that the fall
2007 Bridges International Workshop in Guatemala would be working with Fotokids I signed up.

Photo of Jeff Speigner

Photo by Eric Lolkema

So in November of 2007 I found myself in Santiago Atitlan, Guatemala with both of these inspirational figures, their staff, 16 volunteers from, and 16 talented teens. In one short week we went from meeting each other, to holding a film festival in the town center. It was an intense and rewarding experience. The film that I mentored kids on was entitled Mi Futuro, “My Future” and explored the limited employment opportunities in Santiago. It starred David, a young Mayan descendant from Santiago Atitlan who wants to become a graphic designer. During production I visited Davids home, met his parents, and got to see his artwork. It became clear that he is very talented.

Coincidentally during lunch breaks Nancy told me about her plans to establish a design studio in Santiago that would serve the non-profits and business operating around the lake and provide employment opportunities for graduating Fotokids who wanted to pursue that path and who wanted to remain in their home community. Before I knew what was happening I was volunteering to come teach design, and bring other creative professionals along with me. That was the genesis of the first workshop which was held one year ago. We’re now about to embark on our third. Each one is getting better and better. Oh and David, well he’s been studying graphic design in the capital and has been a star in the first two workshops, and will be returning for his third one this week.

I can hardly wait to get back to see and work with these amazing kids, the unbelievable volunteers, and my friend and mentor Nancy McGirr. Be careful what you wish for people, it just may come true.

Ed. note: During the workshop we intend to post a student’s impressions of the workshop, some of their artwork, and of course pictures and video highlights. We want to make this a meaningful interactive experience for our audience so please let us know what you want to see more of, less of, etc., and if you have other ideas for content please tell us.

Photos from the First Workshop

With the second Design4Kids workshop just over two weeks away, I thought it would be a good idea to post a few of my favorite pictures from the first event held last November. Take a look and leave your feedback, questions, ideas etc. We want Design4Kids to extend beyond just the mentors and students attending the workshops to include the broader community of caring people.