On Thursday July 25th, a group of 6 international visitors arrived in St. Louis as part of the program “21st Century Changemakers: Trend Leaders Promote Social Media Discernment Among Youth.” The visitors were able to stay in the trendy Central West End neighborhood and experience what St. Louis has to offer. 

On Friday, the group began their day meeting with Lt. Col. Gerald Leyshock, a police officer with the St. Louis Police Department. During this meeting they were able to discuss how the police department has been involved in social media activism since 2014.  The visitors were able to learn how social media has enabled the police to become more engaged in the community thus aiding in combating crime. 

Later that day, the group was able to meet with Melanie Bernds and Charles Purnell who are Co-Presidents of the Social Media Club of St. Louis. In this meeting they were able to discuss how new media platforms can be used to address societal issues as well as the way humans connect, communicate, and collaborate with one another. They learned about POV journalism, reliable sources, and how authenticity is key when marketing to your target group. 

Over the weekend, the visitors were able to attend a St. Louis Cardinals baseball game as well as take a ride to the top of the Gateway Arch.

On Monday, the group met with Larry Baden, an Associate Professor at Webster University who teaches media law and ethics in journalism. He was able to talk to the visitors about how to mine online sources, how to crowdsource, and how to gather and access public records. The group was able to learn how the impact of new media platforms on the spread of disinformation in the news. Shortly after, the group was able to meet with Aaron Holdmeyer, the Communications Director at Area Resources for Community and Human Services (ARCHS). In this meeting, they discussed deep fakes and how to change perspective and control the narrative, the issue of fake news in media and how to combat it, and the influence of social media and how to get messages to the masses.

The last meeting they had on Monday was with Jenny Armbruster, the Deputy Executive Director of the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse (NCADA). Here, the visitors were able to learn how to raise awareness regarding issues of drug use by educating parents on ways to effectively converse with their children as well as how they use social media to educate the populace about drug and alcohol safety. 

The group departed St. Louis on July 30th to head to their final stop in the U.S., Tampa.  



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