Perception Isn’t Always Reality

Saint Louis Story Stitchers is one of 30 recipients awarded funding that will support a national health initiative through the arts.

Saint Louis-based organization Saint Louis Story Stitchers Artists Collective is being funded to create innovative dances, songs, and stories that will harness the power of the arts to engage audiences and participants of all ages in overcoming COVID-19 and influenza vaccine hesitancy.

With support from the CDC Foundation, the Saint Louis Story Stitchers project Perception Isn’t Always Reality will engage Black teen and young adult artists to re-evaluate messages they may have received about COVID and vaccinations and evaluate the sources of the information. Through their own brand of urban storytelling that involves collaborative work in hip-hop music, krump dance, videography, photography, and podcasting, the artists will produce a body of work for the public to view on urban canvases, such as the sides of city buses, and listen to on the airwaves.

“We are excited to bring the arts and science together in a really powerful way with these partnerships,” said Judy Monroe, MD, president and CEO of the CDC Foundation. “Through their chosen art forms, these organizations will be able to create accessible and inspiring work that communicates essential health information about the safety and importance of vaccination in protecting communities from COVID-19 and influenza.”

The CDC Foundation helps the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) save and improve lives by unleashing the power of collaboration between CDC, philanthropies, corporations, organizations and individuals to protect the health, safety and security of America and the world. Since January 2020, the CDC Foundation, through the support of its donors, has addressed a wide variety of critical needs during the COVID-19 pandemic. This work has included providing personal protective equipment for frontline responders; care kits for schools, jails and the unhoused; studies examining the impact of COVID-19; work to strengthen communities and community-based organizations to improve vaccination uptake and address misinformation; more than 100 projects focused on health equity; and much more.

Funding for this effort is made possible through a subaward from the CDC Foundation and is part of a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) financial assistance award totaling $2,500,000.00 with 100 percent funding from CDC/HHS. The contents are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement by, CDC/HHS or the U.S. Government.

More details and a schedule of events for the Perception Isn’t Always Reality project will be published soon at

See the CDC Foundation Press Release.

The effort to submit the Perception Isn’t Always Reality grant was made possible in part by support from Missouri Foundation for Health.

About Saint Louis Story Stitchers Artists Collective

The Saint Louis Story Stitchers Artists Collective is artists and BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) youth ages 16-24, working together to create social change with a focus on gun violence prevention.

Story Stitchers is committed to placing youth at the center of the work both in identifying topics for exploration as well as the methods for engagement. This approach builds a community of youth and professional artists who respect one another.

Stitchers collect stories, reframe and retell them through art, writing and performance to promote understanding, civic pride, intergenerational relationships and literacy. Projects create a platform for community engagement through an artistic lens and with it the Saint Louis Story Stitchers work to shift perceptions and realities and bring hope to the Saint Louis community. Our goal is to promote a better educated, more peaceful and caring region through storytelling.

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