Health disparities based on race and socioeconomic status are a critical issue facing both our state and nation today. In order to begin addressing these disparities, it is important that young voices from African American communities are adequately represented in the field of public health as individuals willing to expose the truth about this injustice and to effectively communicate vital health messages to diverse audiences.
In the Department of African American & African Studies, we are continually looking for ways to expose young people to the vast resources of a public research institution, our partners and the role they can play as future leaders.
With the explosion in popularity of YouTube and the expertise and inventiveness of young people in creating their own videos, the Department of African American & African Studies, the School of Public Health and African Health Action Corporation developed a project called "Taking Control". Taking Control will partner high school students from North Community High School with (1) graduate student from the School of Public Health, (1) undergraduate student from the Department of African American & African Studies and (1) staff member from African Health Action Corporation. The team will develop a public service announcement (PSA) of 30 seconds or less that creates public health awareness in communities of color; specifically the African and African American communities.
The project will offer both access and mentorship opportunities to North Community High School students. Students involved in the project will receive supplemental education about developing effective messages and then actually conceptualize and craft their own PSAs under the guidance of current University of Minnesota students. The partnership will create awareness of career pathways available that project participants might not have had direct exposure to otherwise. Finally the Department want to make it "cool" to be healthy. Research shows the academic success of students is strongly linked to their health. It is our goal that this project jump starts a movement of student associations dedicated to making healthy choices.