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Projects with Promise

Vol. 25 No. 3

Virtual Engagement of Youth in the time of COVID-19 and Social Uprisings: Youth Voice, Sex Trading, and the Future of Engaged Research

December 15, 2020


Spurred by the COVID-19 pandemic and social uprisings against police violence, the Minnesota Youth Sex Trading (MYST) project moved to an entirely virtual format to engage young people who trade sex. Grounded in participatory and action research, we invested in Millennial and Generation Z researchers’ leadership and used marketing principles to create a research-brand for our online presence. As a result, the team garnered new technical skills. More importantly, we developed a novel approach to trust-building, accountability, transparency, and authenticity as we built an online community and increased our reach with marginalized young people. Our work shows that youth culture and social media use during COVID-19 and social uprisings contain valuable insights into young people’s engagement in research. This paper illuminates promising virtual participatory action research principles to engage youth online as experts in prevention, intervention, and wellness promotion, yielding important new insights about the future of engaged research.