KANSAS CITY, Mo. — In Kansas City, younger people under the age of 29 are the fastest-growing segment of the city's population getting sick with COVID-19.
To help change that narrative, there’s a group of about a dozen teen health ambassadors at ArtsTech in Kansas City going around urging their peers to get vaccinated.
“I’ve talked about the vaccine with my friends,” said 15-year-old Skyelar Anderson.
Anderson, along with the other teens, has crafted messages on why taking the vaccine is a good idea.
“At our age, you need to get vaccinated because you have so much longer to live,” said 16-year-old Aniyah Fletcher.
One teen touched on how getting vaccinated is more than an individual choice.
“I would just say get it for the other people around you,” said 16-year-old Hannah Scott.
Relatability is key for Anderson, Fletcher and Scott to sway other teens toward vaccination.
“Especially with our age group, we like to go places and do things, and the vaccine is that one thing that protects you, so I feel as if, if I’m somebody in that age group that you can connect to, why not just listen to me and maybe go, 'Hey, maybe I’ll think some more about it, or maybe I’ll get the vaccine,'” Anderson added.
All three teens KSHB 41 News spoke with got vaccinated after being a part of a new health ambassador program with ArtsTech where they bring in health professionals to dispel myths and talk about the effectiveness of the vaccines.
“I think that it’s very important to empower the young people just because they’re the population that’s the least vaccinated right now,” said Taylor Brown, outreach manager at ArtsTech.
The teens are using this knowledge to encourage their peers via many different platforms.
“A lot of the stuff I did was online,” Scott said.
Fletcher echoed Scott in finding success online with social media.
“I started off with Instagram, I started doing polls,” added Fletcher, who posed the question, "Are you vaccinated or are you not? And it was a lot of people, I was surprised, a lot of people actually answered the question.”
The nearly dozen teens have reached out to over a thousand people so far.
“A lot of the people around me were really receptive of it,” Scott said.
It’s an effective strategy, according to Brown.
“It does mean more when you hear it from your peers or when you hear it from people that you don’t feel like are biased or don’t have anything to lose or gain from you getting vaccinated,” Brown said.
The goal is to vaccinate as many teens as possible as in-person classes at schools across the metro begin soon.
“If we get one person vaccinated, mission accomplished,” said Juan Tabb, executive director of ArtsTech.
To learn more about this program at ArtsTech, click here.