Teens play a critical role in helping to reduce the spread of COVID-19. There are about 25 million young people ages 12-17 in the United States and in early 2022 only 58 percent of them had received the two-dose vaccine series, which was below the national rate of 65 percent and the second lowest vaccination rate of any age group. In Baltimore, Maryland, people under 20 had the lowest vaccination rate in the city and only 43.5 percent of the Black community were fully vaccinated.
With support from the CDC Foundation, we teamed up with Baltimore youth artists TayyBandz, Young Elder and Soul to create Community Immunity: Teen Takeover, the newest addition in our Community Immunity vaccine literacy series, with multi-platinum producer Artie Green and Darryl DMC McDaniels of RUN-DMC. These new resources also expand upon our Voices on Vax partnership in collaboration with the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health’s Center for Adolescent Health.
Community Immunity: Teen Takeover taps into the power of young people as health advocates and trusted messengers to share a positive, educational and empowering message about youth vaccination and other actions that teens can take in the fight against COVID-19. The new educational videos are complemented by a robust wraparound Educator Toolkit designed to help teachers infuse the Community Immunity resources into their classrooms.
The Music Videos
Our multimedia approach to health literacy maximizes engagement by creating cultural and emotional connections with content while earning trust through the use and social capital of credible messengers. In Community Immunity: Teen Takeover, featuring the Baltimore stylings of Soul, Tayy Bandz, and Young Elder, these dynamic youth artists bridge the gap between the local B’more vibe and the science supporting the important role teens play in curbing the spread of COVID-19.
The Educator Toolkit
The Educator Toolkit provides teachers with easy-to-use guidance, lesson plans, slide presentations, classroom activities, and family materials to thoughtfully and inclusively teach about how vaccines work, why vaccination is important, and explore the role young people play in the fight against COVID-19. Our series of short explainer videos offer additional guidance on how to use Teen Takeover resources to lead tricky conversations about COVID-19 from a place of clarity, accuracy, warmth, and connection.
By request, we are offering a limited number of free, customized, virtual training sessions on Teen Takeover for schools, school districts, or other educational organizations that work with teens. We’ll come to you (virtually) with a 90-minute training that is tailored to your needs. Don’t wait, slots are limited!
As we work towards filling knowledge gaps, we also recognize that information alone does not motivate behavior change. For health literacy efforts to be effective, they need to connect culturally and emotionally which is why Community Immunity is based on our Multisensory Multilevel Health Education Model (Williams O. & Swierad, 2019) which leverages the power of culture and art to create an immersive experience and not just an age-appropriate lecture.
Our model is based on the premise that art and science exist along the same continuum – a symbiosis at the heart of our health literacy and communication resources. Indeed, the most effective health education is one that creates an immersive experience and not just an age-appropriate lecture. As the most popular genre in the US, hip hop has mass appeal and is a particularly effective learning tool due to its ability to incorporate multiple literary devices, such as rhymes and spaced repetition which are known to enhance learning and memory.
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Community Immunity: Teen Takeover is made possible through a subaward from the CDC Foundation and is part of a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) financial assistance award totaling $2,500,000.00 with 100 percent funding from CDC/HHS. The contents are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement by, CDC/HHS or the U.S. Government.