Recovery Pending Revolution: youth artists of color as agents of recovery and readiness

This project studies pandemic recovery for teenagers and pandemic readiness for future emergencies. We will bring together youth of color (YOC) artists and health professionals to develop and evaluate culturally affirming messages. We also are also studying how to strengthen the public health messages we receive by including artistic storytelling as a strategy. COVID-19 has taken a toll on the mental health of many teenagers. Many YOC are struggling to recover from loneliness; loss of loved ones; academic problems; money issues; and discrimination. Finding new strategies to help everyone recover is a public health priority.

In this project, we use a proven model that supports and spreads the voices of YOC spoken-word artists who "change the conversation" about public health. We will learn from YOC artists what recovery means to them and their friends and will support these artists to create a new campaign from their art. Results will help public health and youth programs help YOC recover. While California's COVID-19 response was strong, the spread of lies and false information prevented many from staying healthy. Also, most messages did not come from diverse messengers, which got in the way of information flow for people of color.

Leading researchers have taken away lessons from the pandemic. At the top of their list is the need to "build trust through networks based on partnerships between community organizations and scientists" and "invest in science to develop ways to address crisis management and deliver public health messages." This requires that we study how public health programs communicate, what we communicate, and how we can spread the voices of trusted messengers.

We are conducting an internet experiment to figure out how much better arts-based approaches to health communication are compared to usual approaches. We also will study whether we can do better at spreading these messages. This research will provide information to improve our response to future emergencies. 


  • UC Merced
  • UC Santa Barbara
  • UC Berkeley
  • Youth Speaks, Oakland

Other Children and Adolescents Funded Projects