Kids In Focus
A New Lens on Life
When kids experience trauma, they disconnect from the world and from themselves. Kids in Focus is a 501c3 nonprofit organization dedicated to empowering and equipping at-risk kids to shift from surviving to thriving. Through the restorative power of photography and with the guidance of dedicated mentors, these kids are inspired to open their eyes to their potential and self-worth.
Tapping into the power and universal language of photography, Kids in Focus enables children to gain a new perspective on themselves and their environment. The kids’ eyes open to their potential for creativity and success by learning new ways of connecting with others and the world.
Founder Karen Shell’s lifelong pursuit of helping kids and families in need began in the early ’90s. After emerging from an abusive and challenging home-life as a child, she was driven to give back and help others by her early 20s. During her first six years of volunteering, Karen fed the homeless, played softball with the kids at The Salvation Army, and celebrated birthdays with the kids at domestic abuse shelters. She took kids from the West Valley Child Crisis Center on adventures, mentored girls at Florence Crittenton, read to the homeless children at UMOM, played kickball with the adult mentally disabled at Civitan House, and much more.
While mentoring these kids, Karen created the first Kids in Focus project to teach them to see themselves and the world with a new perspective. At the completion, Karen was amazed by the transformations she saw in the kids she had known for five years. She realized she had finally found a way to make a difference in these kids’ lives and turned Kids in Focus into a 501(c)(3) in 2012, which she has been growing ever since. Karen feels her whole life has been grooming her to create Kids in Focus.
Alongside her 26 years of service to the kids and families in our community, Karen has supported herself as a commercial photographer, working for advertising clients worldwide. Her three-decade career has continually reminded her of the powerful value of seeing outside oneself; her passion for life is a testament to seeing beyond one’s circumstances. In 2017, Phoenix Home & Garden magazine profiled Karen as one of the “10 Western Women We Admire” for her years of dedication helping those in need.
Exhibition Open for Viewing
May 8, 2021 through
September 4, 2021
Gallery 4 at HD South
Gilbert Historical Museum
10 South Gilbert Road
Gilbert, AZ 85296