UCSF Diabetes Family Fund: Public Health Literacy Partnership Features Youth Speaks

In May 2011, the UCSF Diabetes Center Diabetes Family Fund for Innovative Patient Care, Education and Scientific Discovery awarded its first grants to twelve groups of collaborators. As a special feature for our readers, we will continue to spotlight these groups and their progress in our future newsletters.  In this issue, we are featuring The Bigger Picture (TBP) campaign between UCSF’s Center for Vulnerable Populations (UCSF CVP) http://cvp.ucsf.edu/, and the community-based arts and youth organization, Youth Speaks (YS).

The purpose of this partnership is to showcase the very talented voices of minority youth in California to raise awareness and instigate social action regarding the environmental and socioeconomic inequities that drive the diabetes epidemic -- and disproportionately affect youth, their families and their communities.

The campaign is multi-faceted and includes well-produced, hard-hitting spoken–word (poetry) video public service announcements (see examples at:http://bravenewvoices.org/thebiggerpicture/2011/09/bigger-picture/), school assembly productions and workshops across Bay Area public high schools, and an online competition and digital mapping tool to encourage broad viewing and participation – all to reflect the local realities that exist across California’s hardest hit communities. Unlike other diabetes prevention efforts, TBP shifts the focus from encouraging individual behavioral change to the societal forces that perpetuate obesity and diabetes.  It urges youth to transform their environment and take charge of improving their own lives.

TBP creates multiple opportunities to bring minority youth voices into the diabetes discourse, enabling more effective interventions to accelerate changes in diabetes-related policy and practice. Informed and activated minority youth, powered by social media, can be forceful engines to ferment policy change aimed at the drivers of early diabetes, and reversal of risk factor prevalence and disparities in diabetes incidence. This, in turn, will increase the health literacy of minority youth around the diabetes epidemic.