The Massapequa School District marked World AIDS Day by educating students about prevention of the potentially life-threatening illness during a series of programs held early last month. More than 50 students from the Peer AIDS Educators club at Massapequa High School shared valuable information during presentations at the high school and Berner Middle School.
High school health educator Michael LaBella, adviser of Peer AIDS Educators, said that HIV and AIDS prevention education is required for students each year by the New York State Department of Education. Massapequa provides age-appropriate lessons, including the World AIDS Day presentations for secondary students. LaBella explained that education is the best way to prevent the spread of AIDS.
Berner Middle School students met with the Peer AIDS Educators during physical education classes. The high school students performed skits about different topics including HIV/AIDS facts and modes of transmission. In one skit, as Peer AIDS Educators would describe a certain action, Berner students had to walk to a spot to identify if that was no risk, low risk or high risk behavior for transmitting the disease. During another activity, students dumped jelly beans into a jar, representing the average of the 390 pills a person with AIDS must take each month.
The district also partnered with the Names Project, which provided quilts that were on display at the high school, the Ames Campus and the middle school throughout the week. The panels on each quilt were made by loved ones in honor a person who lost his or her life due to HIV/AIDS.
Berner students viewed the quilts during their health classes, and high school students visited the auditorium during their physical education classes to see the quilts and learn from the Peer AIDS Educators. The quilts at Ames were displayed in the cafeteria for students to look at during their lunch periods.