The Youth Education Access on HIV (YEAH) Project brings together the Michigan Organization on Adolescent Sexual Health (MOASH), Wayne State University (WSU), and the Connect 2 Protect (C2P) Detroit Coalition to improve access to HIV/AIDS-related health information for patients, the affected community, and caregivers. Project partners hope to eliminate barriers in access to information technology among Detroit youth in the short term and establish communities that are better positioned to decrease the incidence and prevalence of HIV/AIDS among Detroit youth in the long term.
Over the course of the project, focus groups were conducted to gauge how youth were using digital sources for information on sex and HIV. During these focus groups, youth were introduced to the National Library of Medicine’s (NLM) online resources and were asked to give feedback on which sites they felt were most accessible and youth friendly.
During the focus groups, youth participants identified the online platform, TikTok, as one of the most effective digital tools for reaching other young people. Based on this information, YEAH facilitators created the “TikTok Meets Sexual Health” trainings and had TikTok influencer, Mars Wright, come in to teach the youth participants how to make videos that were entertaining, educational, and effective. Youth who participated in these trainings took on the role of Youth Ambassadors for Sexual Health and created several TikToks about NLM sites and their contents. In addition to receiving training, Youth Ambassadors were supplied with tripods and ring lights to produce their videos. As with all MOASH programming, the Youth Ambassadors were compensated for their time and energy at the training.
YEAH Facilitators then took the information gleaned from the youth focus groups and trainings and created a training for youth-serving providers called “When Social Media Meets Credible Health Information.” This training was attended by 48 doctors, nurses, social workers, and other youth advocates. It provided the service providers with information about NLM’s resources,strategies for creating youth-friendly materials, and using social media to engage young people.
What we learned from this year-long project is that youth want access to information that not only helps them to manage their own health but also allows them to educate and engage their peers. We also found that many people who provide services to youth want to know the most effective ways to reach and serve youth. Through this intergenerational project, the roles of “educator” or “student” were not defined by age. Youth and adults who participated in the YEAH Project had opportunities to become both.
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