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Where Are They Now? An Update on the Northwest Portland Area Indian Health Board

In part four of a five-part We Are Public Health series update, the Northwest Portland Area Indian Health Board discusses their continued efforts to engage Native youth through social media. As part of our 25th Anniversary, we are recognizing the excellent work of our partners.
Where Are They Now? An Update on the Northwest Portland Area Indian Health Board

In 2015, We R Native launched a new “Youth Ambassador” section on the website to engage AI/AN youth in their health, and make a positive impact in their communities.

In part four of a five-part We Are Public Health series update, the Northwest Portland Area Indian Health Board discusses their continued efforts to engage Native youth through social media. As part of our 25th Anniversary, we are recognizing the excellent work of our partners.

September 21, 2015

In August 2013, the We Are Public Health series featured the Northwest Portland Area Indian Health Board (NPAIHB) and its use of social media to promote health and reverse health disparities among Native youth—a group disproportionally burdened by suicide, substance use, and sexually transmitted infections.

After surveying Native youth to better understand how they use different media, NPAIHB launched a multimedia project to promote health while emphasizing the importance of Native culture. The project, called We R Native, began as a Facebook page, but soon expanded to include a website, Twitter and Tumblr pages, a YouTube channel, and text messaging service.

Where Are They Now?
The We R Native project continues to increase engagement with Native youth through its various media channels. The We R Native Facebook page has over 26,000 likes, more than 270 YouTube channel videos have been created and viewed over 29,000 times, and the text messaging service has over 2,600 subscribers. New media venues have also been added, including Instagram and Snapchat.

“One of our most successful social media campaigns was a weekly sexual health video mini-series we ran during February and March to celebrate Valentine’s Day and Native HIV Awareness Day,” said Stephanie Craig Rushing, PhD, MPH, Project Director for the Northwest Tribal Epidemiology Center. Called Native VOICES, the 23-minute video was originally filmed to be used in conjunction with an evidence-based HIV/STI prevention intervention for American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) youth and young adults. “Teens loved it. Some even thought it was a reality show. The Native VOICES mini-series generated over 102,745 video views, reached 259,158 people, and was clicked on, shared, liked, or commented on 61,441 times,” said Rushing.

We Are Public Health 2013-08

The August 2013 We Are Public Health postcard, featuring the Northwest Portland Area Indian Health Board.

Since the We Are Public Health story published in August 2013, two additional initiatives have resulted from the original We R Native project. The first was a research study, “Texting 4 Sexual Health,” which looked at whether text messages could increase sexual health knowledge, and improve attitudes, self-efficacy, intention, and behavior around condom use and STI/HIV testing among AI/AN teens and young adults. “This study was the first to explore the potential of text messaging as a vehicle to promote sexual health among AI/AN youth,” said Rushing.

Text messages were delivered through We R Native, which sends weekly health messages to those who subscribe.

“Study results showed a positive change in both attitude and behavior towards condom use, and intention and behavior towards STI/HIV testing,” said Rushing. Overall, the study showed text messages could be an effective tool to deliver sensitive health information to teens and young adults.

In August 2015, We R Native also launched a new “Youth Ambassador” section on the website. This section features a new challenge each month to actively engage AI/AN youth in their health, and challenge their peers to make a positive impact in their communities. Several We R Native Youth Ambassadors attended the White House Tribal Youth Gathering in Washington D.C. this summer, and helped spread the word about We R Native. “This year we will have nearly 50 Youth Ambassadors from across the United States who will be trained and supported as they spread positive vibes and create change in their local communities,” said Rushing.

In the future, NPAIHB has further aspirations to expand their reach to Native youth, which includes launching a mobile first, responsive website in 2016.

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