Upper St. Clair art students Kate Shaughnessy and Chloe Perkins work on portraits.

In America, the average teenager has life captured in images from baby pictures to school pictures to frequent selfies. It’s hard to imagine being a child and not having a single photo from your childhood.

The Upper St. Clair High School art department recently partnered with the Memory Project to create and donate portraits of children and teens living in an orphanage in Jordan. From digital images provided by organization volunteers, students spent months perfecting their drawings and paintings. “Receiving personalized gifts made in their own image was a totally new experience for them, and all the more meaningful considering their current circumstances,” Ryan Egan, communications director for the Memory Project, said. The Memory Project is a charitable nonprofit organization that invites art teachers and their students to create and donate portraits to youth around the world who have faced substantial challenges, such as neglect, abuse, loss of parents, violence and extreme poverty.

In addition to the portraits, Upper St. Clair High School and other participating schools contributed nearly $7,000 to the project. “We were able to purchase $5,187 in art supplies for various community centers serving the children in the refugee camp, and we were also able to donate $1,600 to the orphanages,” Mr. Egan said. “That is a terrific amount of support for all of us to provide together, along with these very special portraits.”

View the Memory Project video: https://memoryproject.box.com/ErikaValentine