Colosseum Migrant Parent Support Program Wraps up with PhotoVoice Awards Ceremony

On April 12, we travelled to Wuxi in Jiangsu Province, China to wrap up a one-year migrant parent support program we implemented for American apparel brand Colosseum. The program involved a series of trainings for workers on the importance of parents’ wellbeing, the needs of children and remote parenting through strengthened communication. Line Managers were also trained in communication techniques and conflict management. But the most creative and personal aspect of the program was PhotoVoice, a project that teaches parent workers an alternative mode of expression through photography and story-telling.

The goal of PhotoVoice is two-fold: On that one hand, it aims to give workers an accessible and fun medium to interact and share stories with their children; on the other, it allows factories to show they care about their parent workers and understand their needs.

The overall project reached 64 workers, with 12 parent workers taking part in the PhotoVoice finale in April. All but one participant was a parent with left-behind children and each person was tasked with capturing moments from their trip home over the Chinese New Year and to construct stories around a selection of their favourite photos upon returning to the factory. During the PhotoVoice training sessions, CCR CSR helped them choose the best pictures, printed them out and gave each worker an individual photo album of their masterpieces. 

A photo album from one of the participants. 

But the job was not done.

Workers had to select 2-4 photos each from their portfolio and present the story behind each one – the idea being to help workers articulate their feelings and experiences, engage with their children during their trip home, and build up their confidence and communication skills, with the added bonus of creating a priceless photo album of their loved ones. The selected shots and stories were then spun into posters, which adorned the factory entrance wall for all to see. Workers were encouraged to vote for their favourite photo story and on April 12 the time had finally come for Colosseum, CCR CSR and the factory to reward the winners.

The poster wall at the factory entrance. 

Ms. Zhang, a mother of two left behind children from Anhui Province was hailed the overall winner with the highest tally of votes. Ms. Zhang, whose husband also works at the same factory, submitted two photos of their two daughters who live with their grandparents in Anhui throughout the year. Her heartfelt captions and endearing shots clearly struck a chord with the other workers:

Ms. Zhang got to keep the camera and was also given a parenting book and a card deck to play with next time she sees her children. 

“I was really glad that I attended the parent training and took part in the PhotoVoice activities. They made me feel confident that I can still educate my children well even when I am not around. Now I can enjoy my phone calls with my daughter and son, and sometimes our calls even last for one hour now!” one of the PhotoVoice participants remarked.

Ms. Zhang and her husband with their awards. 

In fact, everyone was a winner and no-one walked home empty handed. Kelsey Keene, CSR Director from Colosseum Athletics handed out prizes to all participants including pedometer wristbands, books, UNO card decks and more. Colosseum was strongly committed to this migrant parent program from start to finish, and this awards ceremony was a great opportunity for all stakeholders to meet in person and reflect upon the results.    

“Migrant workers make up the majority of the workforce manufacturing Colosseum products in China, and many of these workers are parents with left behind children. Working with CCR CSR on the migrant parent worker training and photo-voice program has allowed us to support these parents and improve their relationship with their children back home. A secondary motivation in implementing this program has been to help factory management decrease turnover by improving worker satisfaction and loyalty.  We’ve seen success with this program in both areas,” Ms. Keene said. 

Every participant of PhotoVoice was a winner. 

Group shot of the PhotoVoice participants with representatives from CCR CSR, Colosseum and factory management. 

Check out our full PhotoVoice closing ceremony photo album with captions here (requires VPN if accessing from China) and click this link to view workers' PhotoVoice stories.

Thursday, April 13, 2017