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COVID Vaccine Equity Insights

We are periodically featuring insights and lessons learned by grantees of Together We Protect, a partnership of Immunize Colorado, Colorado Vaccine Equity Taskforce, and 14 funders who came together to create Colorado’s COVID-19 Vaccine Equity Fund.

More than 12,000 Colorado adults and youth have received their COVID-19 vaccination thanks to the outreach and services of Servicios de la Raza. With support from a Together We Protect grant, Servicios developed a multi-faceted approach to make the vaccine available via mobile clinics, hosting clinics in churches and other trusted community venues, increasing awareness through a partnership with 9News, and more. The nonprofit’s strong success in reaching low-income, immigrant, refugee, and monolingual Spanish-speaking Coloradans has been recognized by the Consulate General of Mexico with the presentation of its Ohtli Award. Ohtli, the Nahuatl word for “pathway,” refers to the road one should follow to fulfill their destiny, as well as to open pathways for others.

A new and creative approach to continue to grow the vaccination rate among youth was recently launched and led by alumni of the La Raza Youth Leadership Institute. Together with support from Servicios’ staff and volunteers, the youth hosted an art contest for youth ages 12-19 with the theme of motivating Latinx/Chican@ youth to receive their COVID vaccination.

“Young people are the best messengers, they know the pulse of the community,” said Jenny Santos, a victim advocate for Servicios who has volunteered with the La Raza Youth Leadership Institute for 18 years. “We marketed the contest widely, reaching and engaging youth who are locked up, youth from the Ute Reservation, young people outside of Colorado – we didn’t say no to anyone.”

The Youth Leadership team identified the top three winners, and awarded the first place winner – Monserrat (Monse) Diaz – with the $1,000 grand prize. A junior at Jefferson High School in Edgewater, Monse learned about the contest from her teacher in the Gold Crown C2C (college and career readiness) program. “I’m known in the C2C program as the “art kid,” said Monse, “but I’ve always been shy about my art work. When my teacher encouraged me to participate in the art contest, I decided to put myself out there.

“At first I struggled to come up with an idea that wasn’t too complicated to show the importance of Latinx/Chican@ youth getting the COVID vaccination,” said Monse, who also goes by her “art name” of Kaerucat. “The idea came to me in my history class when we were learning about World War II. As I was looking at the “We Can Do It” poster that encouraged women to take on the work of men who were serving in the war, I thought maybe I could inspire my community to get vaccinated for people who are battling COVID or working front line jobs like in hospitals and cleaning.”

Monse’s art is being displayed on buses and in bus stop shelters near a number of Denver and Aurora schools. In addition to displaying the vibrant artwork and its saying – viva la vacuna (long live the vaccine) – the ads provide a phone number for youth to call for vaccine and booster information.

“When I see my art displayed in the community,” said Monse, “ I think I will feel very accomplished. I’ve always dreamed of being a famous artist and this is a small piece of it.”

“It’s a traditional thing for our people to use the arts to show the sentiments of the time or to document historically what’s happening,” said Jenny. “It’s in Monse’s blood to use her art work to cure and heal our community.”