'COVID Shuffle Challenge' Brings COVID Safety Awareness Back In Focus

Students promote the #HandsFaceSpace Covid Challenge and vaccination station at the Arkansas Union.
Carrie Nelms

Students promote the #HandsFaceSpace Covid Challenge and vaccination station at the Arkansas Union.

This past spring, 15 U of A students in the Environmental Community Adaptations course partnered with Steve Clark, CEO and president of the Fayetteville Chamber of Commerce, and John L. Colbert, superintendent of the Fayetteville Public Schools, on a public health awareness campaign focused on COVID safety measures — called the "COVID Shuffle Challenge."

The class, taught by Carrie Nelms in the Communication Department, was asked to develop an innovative solution to engage the public back into performing COVID safety measures, such as washing hands and maintaining social distance, while encouraging vaccinations. The project had to be developed and implemented the week students, parents and families returned from spring break. This gave the class a narrow window of four weeks without a budget to design a communication strategy campaign that would engage the mass public to continue practicing COVID safety measures while encouraging the community to receive their vaccinations.

With the help of former U of A cheerleader and talent manager Kristy Hurley in choreographing a TikTok dance, the students developed the "COVID Shuffle Challenge." They partnered with local TikTok influencer, Sam Hurley, and FHS Cheer and Dance Squad, to film the fun viral "shuffle" that would engage Fayetteville elementary and middle school students in the meaning behind the campaign's slogan #handsfacespace. The students designed #handsfacespace stickers that were distributed to all the elementary and middle schools in the Fayetteville Public School system to be worn by the students after they learned the COVID Shuffle dance during advisory period and/or P.E. To track engagement and have some fun with their social media campaign, the U of A class developed TikTok sites to track the "shuffle" on social media and to see which public school would win the "COVID Shuffle Challenge" with the most repeats of the dance and best COVID Shuffle. The U of A class' social media campaign resulted in over 60,000 views and posts.

Additionally, the university students designed brochures highlighting COVID safety measures in crossword puzzles, word searches and other interactive educational tools that were distributed to over 6,000 elementary and middle school students in the county to share with their parents the importance of continuing to practice COVID safety measures and the importance of receiving a vaccination.

The class additionally worked with the Pat Walker Health Center, Panhellenic, and Associated Student Government to spread awareness with the Covid Shuffle Challenge and to push for a vaccination station on campus after spring break as part of their COVID awareness plan. On April 1, the students set up awareness stations with the help of the Union staff around campus to promote the vaccination station offered on campus by the Northwest Arkansas Council, providing 2,600 shots to be administered to U of A students that day. The students handed out donated Sonic coupons to individuals that received their vaccination and other contributions that they had collected for this day.

At the end of the semester, all three local media stations in Northwest Arkansas covered the campaign and its success. According to Nelms, the students not only reached their goals but surpassed them, making the community a safer place due to their diligence in their efforts. The campaign was a great testament to the breadth of experience, opportunities and relationships students can gain from taking a class that combines industry with academics.

Click on the link to watch the COVID Shuffle Video.


Jennie Popp, co-director of the Service Learning Initiative
Honors College
479-575-7381, jhpopp@uark.edu

Kendall Curlee, director of communications
Honors College
479-575-2024, kcurlee@uark.edu


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