Wichita youth are taking the lead on debunking rumors and myths that often keep people from taking the COVID-19 vaccination. Last Saturday, the Facts Not Cap team held a launch event at the Fairmount Park community building. Student leaders engaged in a Q&A session with Mayor Brandon Whipple, Vice Mayor Brandon Johnson, and USD 259’s Director of Safety Services Terri Moses to obtain COVID-19 facts from community leaders.
The “Facts Not Cap” (FNC) initiative is committed to “stopping the spread of Covid with facts and not cap.” (Cap is defined as a lie, untruth, or fiction.) The group shared 100 survey results from people aged 13-26. The survey explored where this age group gets their information, their thoughts on mask-wearing, Covid vaccination, and Covid testing.
Nearly 45% of the responses said they received news from TikTok, and less than 20% said they learned information from a credible source. When asked if they believed mask-wearing lowered the risk of COVID-19, 23% of the respondents said no. “There is a lot of false information about Covid being spread on social media, so we want to provide the facts to our classmates and become a part of the solution to the problem,” said Martel Carter, a Facts Not Cap youth member.
“Everyone has their own beliefs about Covid-19, but the facts are the same. It’s going to take all of us, including our youth, being engaged to push towards the end goal of defeating this virus,” said Vice-Mayor Johnson.
When the project formed in September, many of the FNC members felt that misinformation shared on social media and peer-to-peer did not help encourage proper Covid-19 safety precautions and preventive measures.
The FNC team has pledged to work together to spot misinformation and share up-to-date information on the latest preventive measures and medical advice on the pandemic. Using social media and other news outlets, they hope to help reduce the number of people who put themselves or others in danger due to misinformation.
“The youth are not trying to tell people to get vaccinated or not to get vaccinated, but they want people to be responsible for the rhetoric that they’re sharing, “said Ti’Juana Hardwell, an adult organizer for FNC. Following the Q&A, the FNC team challenged their peers in a trivia challenge to further decipher between a fact and a cap relating to Covid.
In the coming weeks, the Facts Not Cap team will also release a series of commercials and social media content sharing important information about Covid and vaccinations, as reported by the CDC. They will also have a panel discussion with area health professionals to give young people an opportunity to ask questions.
This project is supported by Sunflower Foundation’s Healthy Living & Active Communities Grant. The Facts Not Cap team has youth members from various organizations, including Destination Innovation, NAACP Youth, Real Men Real Heroes, and student leaders from area schools ages 13-20