Lecturer helps students use their voices to show community how to beat COVID-19

Truman Hudson, Jr., Ed.D.

According to Truman Hudson, Jr., Ed.D., young people want to be involved in the fight against COVID-19, and the YOUExplore Fellowship program - an effort supported by the Division of Teacher Education in the Wayne State University College of Education - is giving them the opportunity to use their voices and creativity to positively impact their peers and community.

"The YOUExplore Fellowship is a research-based program that grew out of my work on students' voices in school and community partnerships," said Hudson, an instructor and outreach and marketing specialist in the College of Education. "Students engage in academic service learning social-entrepreneurial activities to address community issues. The goal is to help them become educators and change agents."

The initiative emphasizes seven areas of development: self-expression, personal development, critical thinking, leadership development, teamwork, community building and problem-solving. Through a partnership with the Cody Rouge Community Action Alliance Youth Council, 32 young people meet with Hudson two days a week via Zoom to explore potential careers and discuss social entrepreneurship. One of the first issues they will tackle is the COVID-19 pandemic.

Scheduled to begin this month, #BeatingCOVID-19 is a social media campaign that consists of 60 positive messages participants will share with their peers to illustrate how youth can beat the coronavirus. Messages will be posted on the Cody Rouge Youth Council's Facebook, Instagram and Twitter accounts and focus on a variety of topics from the importance of physical activity and a positive attitude ("work out, don't show out") to kindness and social distancing ("spread love - not COVID-19").

YOUExplore fellows also plan to share stories and statistics about survivors to give teens hope and help them cope during the crisis. Additionally, participants intend to facilitate seminars centered on topics related to youth mental health - including practicing self-care, managing stress with yoga and meditation, and expressing themselves through writing and art - to help youth survive the pandemic.

To help support their efforts, College of Education faculty and staff will help train youth on how to develop virtual programs during the next phase of the program, which is scheduled to take place in the summer.

"Our goal is to expose young people to careers in education. Many of them already have a penchant for it," said Hudson. "We will partner with our colleagues in other divisions to help youth create educational materials for their seminars."

Fellows will also learn more about Wayne State. They will take an interactive tour of the university and connect with representatives from various departments, including financial aid and admissions.

"I grew up in Detroit, and I want young people to see that there are opportunities and options in the city," said Hudson, a two-time university alumnus. "They can grow their talent here. There are institutions like Wayne State that will invest in them, and they can make a difference."

For more information about the YOUExplore Fellowship program, contact Truman Hudson, Jr., at thudsonjr@wayne.edu or 313-577-1742.

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