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Small Gestures Can Make a World of Difference on World AIDS Day

This guest post is written by Erica Begin, Health Ambassador Coordinator for Central Area Health Education Center

Group picture of the students/YHSC supervisors who participated in this event.

Margaret Mead, in her genuine want to understand and develop human nature, said:

 “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”

At the Central CT Area Health Education Center (AHEC) I am part of a small group AmeriCorps members that run a program called the Youth Health Service Corps (YHSC).  YHSC focuses on introducing high school students to concepts of service and public health.  Ms. Mead’s message of change and hope is embraced not just by YHSC but all of AHEC, and something we wanted to convey as an organization in our observation of World AIDS Day this past December 1, 2012.

World AIDS Day is an opportunity for the community to come together in the fight against  HIV/AIDS by raising awareness and offering preventive education. YHSC chose to commemorate this important day by hosting an event for our students and community members at the downtown branch of the Hartford Public Library’s Center for Contemporary Culture. 

The event program began with Ricardo Cruz, AHEC Coordinator of Treatment & Services, giving an HIV 101 workshop in which he provided both a history and the prevalence of HIV in the Hartford community.  Ricardo discussed how youth have been affected by the virus and how they can take action.  Following the presentation, we screened the documentary “House of Numbers,” about HIV/AIDs. This film was powerful in its depiction of what is still unknown about HIV/AIDS, and how despite extensive research and media exploration, we still have not yet been able to completely understand it. I recommend checking it out— you can watch the movie online by clicking here.

Students attending this event from Classical Magnet and EC Goodwin pledged never to engage in unprotected sex and to make safe choices after participating in the HIV 101 workshop

Our goal of the day was for the students to spread awareness using the information made available throughout the event. Students successfully engaged community members by handing out educational materials and selling handmade red ribbons. All proceeds collected went to benefit the Early Intervention Services of AHEC.  This department offers many free services such as free HIV testing and case management. 

While our contributions to date have been modest, it is often the small demonstrations of compassion that are most effective in spreading awareness and initiating greater movements.

We are greatly appreciative to the following partners who helped make the event a success:  The Hartford Library and its staff who supported us by allowing the use of the Center and helped to spread the word of our event to community members, the Department of Public Health who provided free materials regarding HIV/AIDS awareness and sexual health, and Aurora Figueroa of New Britain who catered our event and provided delicious food and drink. 

Erica Begin is currently serving a year as an AmeriCorps volunteer at the Central CT Area Health Education Center.  She works predominantly with high school students in the greater Hartford area, implementing the Youth Health Service Corps, a program that introduces students to Public Health.


Image(s) credit Erica Begin

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