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Cooke-Jackson project to inform urban youth about health issues

Angela Cooke-Jackson, a health communication expert and an assistant professor in Emerson's Communication Studies Department, is launching a social media collaboration between high-risk youth in Boston and Emerson students in her course Diversity, Culture & Health Communication. The aim of the project, which has just received $15,000 in funding from the Reebok Foundation, is to create a digital health manual relevant to high-risk youth in Boston that can be accessed through social media.

Assistant Professor Angela Cooke-Jackson's research and teaching interests focus on the links between interpersonal relationships, culture, and health among underserved and disparate populations.

When a young person needs information on health issues relevant to them, including depression, abuse, sexually transmitted diseases, or drinking, “the Centers for Disease Control and the National Institutes of Health have really informative sites,” said Cooke-Jackson. “But when you go to them, you have to know what you're looking for. They are not really places a young layperson is going to visit. I found there was an absence of really good information that was age-appropriate and relevant.”

For the project, Emerson students will shadow a selection of young Bostonians to film their stories, and each clip will become the basis for a page on a particular health issue in the digital health manual. Each page will also feature appropriate links that will lead the user to more detailed information on the health issue.

“These young people are Digital Natives,” said Cooke-Jackson. “They know how to use all forms of digital technology. If you take health communication and social media and think about how this young population accesses information, why not create something that’s more appealing to them?”

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