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Louisville: Youth Voices Against Violence

The University of Louisville Youth Violence Prevention Research Center (YVPRC), housed in the University of Louisville School of Public Health & Information Sciences, is one of five such centers nationally that is designated and funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to test community-level interventions aimed at reducing the incidence of youth violence. The approach of YVPRC is unique in that it identifies and targets systemic racism and structural violence as root causes of youth violence.

YVPRC hires local youth to engage as both researchers and resources for the project; this group of youth is known as the Louisville Youth Voices against Violence (LYVV) Fellows. Fellows progress through a curriculum that teaches them about systems of power in the U.S., they collaborate with partner organizations, they develop imagery and content for the campaign, and they advocate for social change. Because a central theme of the campaign is the promotion of positive racial identity, the Fellows engage a wealth of information regarding world and U.S. history and utilize their knowledge and lived experience to create positive, uplifting, and liberating narratives about Black youth to mobilize social change. Their messages catalyze critical dialogue in public spaces, including social media.

In addition to the campaign, LYVV Fellows are trained to collect youth interview data annually and assist with interpretation and dissemination of findings. They are also involved in local social action, such as activism to influence the denial of a new liquor license to the dollar stores in their neighborhoods.

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