The AjA Project is an organization that provides a workspace for primarily young storytellers. These photos, taken mostly in the last two years represent a sample of the scope of work AjA Project participants have created, what the group calls “participatory photography.”

Participants create images that represent self and community and use those images as a platform to examine their behaviors, choices and sense of identity, according to the group. More than 5,000 people from middle school to middle age have contributed to the San Diego-based AjA Project, founded in 2000.

BlueSky, Blue Shield of California’s youth mental health initiative, provided a grant to the AjA Project this year. The AjA Project is among 20 nonprofits that recently received grant funds through BlueSky. Blue Shield is highlighting the work as part of World Photo Day.

BlueSky is not just about promoting access and awareness to address mental health challenges among middle and high school students in California – it’s also about helping young people find their voice, so they can advocate for themselves, stand up and be counted.  

“I am truly inspired by the work being done by the AjA Project – tapping into photography as a means to create community,” says Amanda Lasik, Blue Shield of California principal for Corporate Citizenship. “We’ve picked a few photos that we believe exemplify the BlueSky spirit – images that reveal a young person’s character, where they came from, and where they want to go.”