Beautiful, strong, empowering. For teen mothers, Jeff Wiant’s black & white portraits help support the intricate self-worth and confidence they strive to build from within.
Each year, for over 20 years, Jeff Wiant has given of his time and talent to Street of Dreams, a San Diego non-profit dedicated to supporting education for teen mothers and teaching them about self-expression through music, poetry and art. Since its inception in 1998, the program has served over 3,000 students and Jeff has photographed nearly each and every one of them.
Providing support to teen mothers in urban San Diego who are at the highest risk of entering prison due to the generational effects of drug addiction, alcoholism and poverty. Among our participating students (who come from backgrounds of hopelessness and often live in shelters), Street of Dreams consistently achieves a 100% program completion rate, a 100% high school retention rate, a 100% high school graduation rate and a 100% college entry rate.
They become “artists of their own lives”. They begin to transform feelings of hopelessness into art works and public performance. The performance provides a forum for teen mothers who have been without a voice. Their original creations (book of poetry, music video, public performance) provide a profound emotional, informative and cathartic experience for our participants and their audience. This process is essential to the healthy development of our young mothers who have been isolated from normal social interaction. A dead end becomes a Street of Dreams.
All of our students complete our program, graduate high school and enroll in college!
This year’s fundraising performance Spoken Word Concert Class of 2020 was cancelled due to the pandemic, so the girls recorded their poetry from home, Jeff edited the video and together with Teresa Gunn, the founder of Street of Dreams, they created a GoFundMe campaign. The messages the girls speak of, hold true as reminders for all of us.
TRUST – Education will forever change our lives and the lives of our children
UNITY – Together we rise.
SERVICE – Once we graduate from high school and college, we come back and we help another girl. The education of girls is the strongest anti-poverty tool we have today – worldwide. Melissa Gates said that.
As Teresa shares, they end each performance like they always do, holding hands and repeating, “My life experience has made me well suited to be of good service to people like myself. I am educated. I am well directed. I am enormously compassionate. I am a winner in the game of life. Have patience. Have faith. Have trust. Have discipline. And together, we will change, the world.”