Metro Link, Top 10 Most Interesting People 2010
Photos courtesy of New Vision Photography Program
There are those who take high office to institute changes to their communities, and then there are those who take on a local role and make important contributions from within. Albert Price, the CEO of New Vision Photography Program, has found a vital role to serve in helping those with intellectual and developmental disabilities in the Washington, DC metro area, and he has excelled in that role – making his community a far better place for his efforts.
“I bring to the program a very positive attitude, and that filters over to the individuals in the program.” The warmth and spirit one finds in the New Vision offices clearly originates with the organization’s founder. Price began his career as a photographer (widely traveled and published as far as Australia and Africa, and also a long-time official photographer for the Washington, DC mayor’s office). After traveling the globe, he devoted his career to working with individuals with disabilities at the National Children’s Center, as well as Forest Haven, the institution in the District that housed individuals with severe developmental disabilities. His combined work with photography and working with persons with disabilities would fill quite an impressive résumé for most. However, after retiring from those professions, Price realized he had much more to offer. By combining his lifetime of work, he formed New Vision in 2004 and put the final stamp on a lifetime of service.
More than teaching a skill, New Vision brings to its community exactly what the name describes, a new vision on how to teach disabled individuals. The dozens of employees and participants at New Vision share more than job skills. Through the medium of photography (and now videography), the community members learn to see the world differently through the eyes of a camera. They visit museums and the Capitol’s many other sites. They learn; they interact; they socialize. They work together – producing countless varied and impressive photographs – and they play together – performing skits and plays and attending other performances outside the New Vision facility. They learn to be comfortable with themselves and their surroundings in their own communities and with each other. Everyone at New Vision – from Mr. Price to the newest member – grows from the experiences they gain in the program. Those with disabilities find themselves welcomed and appreciated – and, eventually, they find themselves with jobs. “I have a very good staff here of job developers,” says Price. This staff has helped New Vision place over 80% of the program’s forty current participants in jobs, finding work at CVS, Safeway, Giant Foods, Shoppers Food Warehouse, Forman Mills, WHUT TV and other companies in their community.
The program works, because the individuals at New Vision take part in many projects that bring them new experiences and give them a broader perspective and a strong feeling of self-esteem. One such project saw participants joining Mayor Anthony Williams’ motorcade for three days to document his hectic schedule. “This was quite exciting for the individuals [who participated],” he says. “It enhanced their feeling good about themselves.” Of the experience he adds, “I think that would be something they would never forget.”
The group of well-trained photographers at New Vision has full portfolios of dynamic photography from shoots all over the city. Last April, a group of 5 individuals visited the Maryland Capitol and spent a day in the State House photographing “A Day in the Life of Senator Jennie Forehand”. Senator Forehand of Montgomery County Maryland, having worked with individuals with disabilities, welcomed the opportunity to give the photographers, whose ages ranged from the mid-twenties to the mid-sixties, a chance to use their skills and gain experience on a high level. One photographer in his sixties, walked with a cane, but fully participated in the photo shoot. The program Price has created gives everyone — despite the age or severity of their disability — the full benefits of the photography and videography experience and training. To hear him speak about his work with New Vision, it is evident that nobody has benefited from working with this community and watching its evolution more than Al Price himself. “It’s a very great feeling to know that I’ve dedicated forty-five years of my life to making a difference…I have made a difference and touched everybody’s life here at New Vision Photography Program.”