The underlying principle for the Walk a While Foundation is this:
To really get to know a person you need to walk a while with them
Ken was inspired to initiate this project after realising the dire needs in some of Australia's most remote indigenous communities. As a landscape photographer, Ken has spent a great deal of time in and around these communities and over the years developed many strong friendships. He asked some community leaders what they thought of photographers and film makers visiting aboriginal land and the response was that many people pass through, take what they want or need, but give nothing back to the community. Thus, the idea for the Walk a While project was born.
Many indigenous people are geographically and technologically isolated – they are in remote locations and they lack the necessary skills to become self-sufficient. The primary goal of Walk a While is to work with the youth in these communities - to encourage them in the creative arts and to equip them with the tools and skills they need to tell their stories into the future.
Although currently working closely with the Ikuntji community at Haasts Bluff, Ken's vision is to create a model which can eventually be rolled out across other communities.
"To help train these kids in the arts is the most powerful way to assist them to tell their stories and be free from the welfare mentality that exists in a lot of these communities," Ken says. "One thing I've realised through working with indigenous communities, is that a lot of outsiders visit to carry out short-term projects that bring no long term benefits. You have to be prepared to walk a while with the people in order to build meaningful relationships, because they won't open up to you until you've shown them you are not a casual passer-by."
Walk a While is founded on the strong belief that reconciliation is not just about government policy - it's about people walking together. That's when true reconciliation will occur.
Ultimately, we plan to start an Arts Centre at Haasts Bluff, which will become a creative hub for learning. The centre will provide ongoing support and encouragement for the community's youth, a facility for visits by other artists, a gallery and small theatre to showcase and sell artists' work and a base for the coordination of travelling national and international exhibitions of artists' work.
Walk a While requires ongoing public support to ensure its success. To make a donation via PayPal click the donation button below.
For more information, visit www.walkawhile.org.au.