About the Hardnotts Youth Program


Created in Hartford Connecticut during the mid 90's, Team Hardnotts University began mentoring youth of varying ages and backgrounds. Feeling the need to reach out to a young community being destroyed by gang violence, Duane Fernandez Sr. and Team Hardnotts began mentoring and conducting motivational speeches at area schools, detention centers and prisons.  The success of the program soon gained the attention of the Hartford Courant, the largest paper in the state of Connecticut,  who ran an article on the programs success.
(read Article)

Duane Fernandez has since relocated to Daytona Beach and earned a Photography degree from Daytona State College.  Combining his new passion for photography with his true passion for youth and motivational speaking, Team Hardnotts University created the  "Teaching youth to shoot with cameras not guns"  youth awareness program.  This is a mentoring program designed to utilize therapeutic photography techniques and provide youth with a positive avenue for self-expression. In a group setting, participants will be taught the basics of photography and how to use those skills to capture meaningful images. Each session will be centered around a life-skill theme.

Facilitated by youth mentor and award winning  photographer, Duane Fernandez Sr., The Hardnotts Youth program participants will learn how to capture images related to specific topic such as respect, commitment or emotions like a time when you felt stuck. After capturing these images each person will have the opportunity to discuss them with peers and mentors. These session have been able to give youth another way to communicate thoughts and emotions that may not have been expressed in any other platform. In addition, they are becoming familiar with a profession often overlooked.

Imagine a group of teenagers with a BB Gun taking aim and shooting at these bottles. Now imagine those same teens shooting a camera and capturing powerful images.

Instead of criminal mischief, they could be learning a craft that could become a therapeutic hobby or blossom into a life changing career.

-Team Hardnotts University

"Shoot Cameras Not Guns"

Program Photos

These images and accompanying essays were created by youth participating in the "Teaching Youth To Shoot With Cameras Not Guns" Youth Awareness Program. 

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