At Cranhill, in the east end of Glasgow, it has done that and more. Young people, many at secondary school, others college students or unemployed, have spent hour upon hour digitally archiving photographs taken some 15 years ago of the people of Glasgow at rest, at work and at play.
The photographic exhibition mounted by Cranhill Arts Project was funded largely through the city's status as European City of Culture in 1990 and went on to tour in many countries. It allowed budding photographers in the early 1990s to improve their skills, with some going on to become staff photographers at some of Scotland's national newspapers. But the original picture negatives were in danger of being forgotten on dusty shelves and some had suffered flood damage.
Almost a generation on, another group of young people are honing their IT skills, learning how to scan, edit and archive the 30,000 pictures taken.
The Glaswegians Photo Archive will preserve the images taken between 1989 and 1993 for posterity, capturing people at work, at leisure, at school and at home.
David Stewart, aged 21, a college student, first became involved in the Cranhill initiative through another youth project when he was aged 15. He and the other young people say first and foremost that they enjoy the work, but acknowledge that it keeps them "off the streets".
Clair Connolly, aged 18, who hopes to join the police, says: "I know some of the people in the photos from younger years. It's really interesting to see different aspects of Glasgow."
Since September last year, 1,000 of the 30,000 images have been stored digitally. Chris Nicoletti, Cranhill Arts project manager and one of the original photographers, believes that the archive will eventually hold some 10,000 photographs - the remainder being doubles or not suitable for archiving. He hopes that new funding will emerge to allow a new generation of young photographers to chronicle their life and times in Glasgow.
The Heritage Lottery Fund gave pound;25,000 to the Glasgwegians project and to date has given out more than pound;1 million under its "Young Roots" programme. A spokeswoman for the fund said it was important to back projects that encouraged a sense of belonging and helped young people understand their role in the communities where they live.
Other projects funded under "Young Roots" include:
* The Stakeford Youth Arts Project in Irvine, where 25 young people have researched, designed and created new decorative railings and a mural for the community hall reflecting the area's history.
* Sectarianism in Coatbridge brought together 20 young Protestants and Catholics to research the historical origins of sectarianism and included a fact-finding trip to Belfast. It led to a video about sectarianism in Coatbridge, an oral history archive and an exhibition at Summerlee Heritage Park.
* The Young Jacobites film project, about two brothers from the same clan - one decides to fight for the British army and the other for the Jacobites - which is being filmed near Brora.
Visit www.glaswegians.org for more information about the Glaswegians Photo Archive.