Perception Isn’t Always Reality

Saint Louis Story Stitchers Artist Collective’s Perception Isn’t Always Reality will engage BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) teen and young adult artists to reevaluate messages they may have received about COVID and vaccinations and to evaluate the sources of the information. Through their own brand of urban storytelling that involves collaborative work in hip hop music and krump dance, videography, photography, and podcasting, the artists will produce a challenging body of work for the public to experience on urban canvases such as the sides of city buses and on the airwaves.

For the latest information or to find a vaccination site near you go to

Photography by Mike Jensen, courtesy of the David J. Sencer CDC Museum

Story Stitchers work from Perception Isn’t Always Reality, created in 2022 to bolster vaccine confidence with support from the CDC Foundation, is featured in an exhibition at the David J. Sencer CDC Museum, 1600 Clifton Road, NE, Atlanta GA 30329.

The exhibition is on view November 25, 2022 – March 2023.

“Trusted Messengers: Building Confidence in COVID-19 Vaccines Through Art spotlights some of the arts and culture partners who worked with CDC and the CDC Foundation in 2022 to help bolster demand for COVID-19 vaccines by building trust and confidence in their communities.”

To learn more and see additional images from the exhibit visit:

Young people ages 16-24 living in St. Louis region may apply to be a part of Stitchers Youth Council. We make art to serve our City and have fun doing it. Join us. Apply today HERE.

Saint Louis Story Stitchers, St. Louis, MO – Saint Louis Story Stitchers Artists Collective is composed of professional artists and minority youth ages 16-24, working together to create social change with a focus on gun violence prevention. 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.

The effort to submit this grant was made possible in part by support from Missouri Foundation for Health.

The project, entitled “Perception Isn’t Always Reality” is supported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as part of a financial assistance award totaling $73,611 with 100 percent funded by 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.

See the CDC Foundation Press Release

See Story Stitchers 1 7 2022 Perception Press Release

For the latest information or to find a vaccination site near you go to

Story Stitchers Youth leaders have been working to create content for Perception Project with SPOT Content Studio. Excel Business Concepts is sending it out in May and June! Watch and listen!

Story Circles!

Join Story Stitchers artists in a Story Circle and share your experiences, wishes and needs in this safe space. Stories are recorded in Zoom or outdoors. Bring yourself or bring a group.

We are especially interested in stories about Covid and the vaccine have affected you and your family and friends.


Dr. Davis, Director of the City of St. Louis Department of Health, with Stitchers Youth Council members at a Story Circle, Central Library, St. Louis.

Dr. Matifadza Hlatshwayo Davis, MD, MPH, the Director of Health for the City of St. Louis  joins to answer questions about Covid vaccines for this live recording at Central Library, St. Louis Public Library, March 11, 2022.

Watch Dr. Davis on Story Stitchers Youtube channel Playlist Perception Isn’t Always Reality

StitchCast Studio Special Edition: Perception Isn’t Always Reality II

Listen here…

Your Health Matters | COVID-19

Story Stitchers use art to address COVID vaccine hesitancy

  • Updated

Read the St Louis American article by Sylvester Brown, Jr

StitchCast Studio Special Edition: Perception Isn’t Always Reality Part I

Sonya Kumpuckal, MPH, Health Education Coordinator, Division of Health Promotion and Public Health Research, Saint Louis County Department of Public Health, joins to answer questions about Covid vaccines for this live recording at the Lewis and Clark Branch Library, St. Louis County Libraries, March 19, 2022.

Listen here…


Youth leader speaks with Dr. Echols, Director of the City of St. Louis Department of Health

Public health partnerships:

Saint Louis Story Stitchers was founded on the public health concern of gun violence. We began working with the City of St. Louis Department of Health in 2017 at the invitation of Craig Schmid, a DOH Government Services Analyst, to participate with short performances at PIER Health Fairs in City parks as part of our multi-year program called Pick the City UP. Since 2020, Saint Louis Story Stitchers also works with the City’s Department of Public Safety through Youth at Risk Crime Prevention grants of 2020 and 2021. Pick the City UP includes dance battles, performances in public parks, and at neighborhood block parties and The Shelter Project with the Wellston Loop CDC, which placed an architect-designed bus shelter and a fence mural on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr Drive.

Story Stitchers will continue its current partnerships with public health experts and youth-serving organizations in developing factual content and effective messaging about COVID vaccines, trusted sources of information, and the importance of protecting those who are especially vulnerable to serious COVID infections and complications.

These partners include: the Washington University Health Communications Research Laboratory (HCRL), the St. Louis City Department of Health, and Dr. LJ Punch, an American critical care surgeon and founder of “The T”.

Story Stitchers has partnered with the Washington University HCRL since the spring of 2021. Under the leadership of Dr. Matthew Kreuter (a nationally-recognized expert in public health communications), the HCRL team collaborated with Story Stitchers during four summer events designed to present COVID and vaccination facts while engaging BIPOC youth/young adults during hip-hop dance competitions or Dance Battles held at a public square and a neighborhood park in the heart of the city. During these events, the HCRL team conducted conversations with community members that led to their research on effective (and ineffective) messaging in encouraging young BIPOC adults to become vaccinated. During the Perception Isn’t Always Reality project, the HCRL team will continue to collaborate with Story Stitchers on project messages and methods (in an advisory capacity).

Read the article


For the latest information or to find a vaccination site near you go to

Dr. Frederick Echols, now Commissioner of Health for the City of St. Louis, is a well-known and trusted public health leaders in the community who has been successful in creating trust and open channels of communication with youth and young adults during previous Story Stitchers collaborations. During the summer of 2021, the St. Louis Health Department provided onsite vaccinations during the of the aforementioned Dance Battles and distributed free hand sanitizer and face masks to the crowd. Also during the summer events, the Story Stitchers recorded a two-part podcast series in front of the live audiences: “COVID Vaccine Fears and Facts II & III” featured Dr. LJ Punch and Dr. Frederick Echols respectively, engaging in Q and A sessions with community youth moderated by Story Stitchers participants.

Listen to StitchCast Studio

Covid Vaccine Fear and Facts III: As the Delta Variant strand of Covid 19 sweeps into the St. Louis region and the City puts a new mask order in place, youth leaders meet to discuss fears of the vaccine and the facts with Dr. Frederick Echols, Acting Director of the Department of Health for the City of St. Louis. Recorded live July 30, 2021 in Strauss Park. 

Watch the August 10, 2021 News Story

During Perception Isn’t Always Reality, the project team will continue utilizing the Q and A format with experts in responding to residents concerns and misconceptions about COVID transmission and the effectiveness/side effects of vaccines.

About Saint Louis Story Stitchers Artists Collective

Saint Louis Story Stitchers Artists Collective is a non-profit organization engaged in urban storytelling. The mission of Saint Louis Story Stitchers is to document St. Louis through art and word to promote understanding, civic pride, intergenerational relationships and literacy.

Collective artists work alongside twenty 16-24-year-old urban youth to collect stories, reframe and retell them using the arts to promote a better educated, more peaceful and caring society. Saint Louis Story Stitchers are a resident organization at Kranzberg Arts Foundation where members rehearse, present and perform in the Foundation’s first-class spaces. The Collective also maintains the Stitchers Storefront Studio in the historic Delmar Loop District for recording, editing and publishing. Current projects focus on public health issues including gun violence.

In 2022 Saint Louis Story Stitchers programs are supported locally by the City of St. Louis’ Youth at Risk Crime Prevention Grant of 2021, Spirit of St. Louis Women’s Fund, Kranzberg Arts Foundation, Missouri Arts Council, Regional Arts Commission, and individuals.

Saint Louis Story Stitchers is supported in part by an 2021/22 award from the National Endowment for the Arts. On the web at arts dot gov.

In 2022 additional support for Saint Louis Story Stitchers is provided by The Lewis Prize for Music Accelerator Award which provides $500,000 for creative youth development in music.

Lush Corporation’s The Charity Pot and March for Our Lives Aid & Alliance provide additional funding to support youth arts programming.