The Massapequa School District observed World AIDS Day on Dec. 1 with several educational programs throughout the week designed to inform students about the effects of HIV and AIDS.
During physical education classes at Massapequa High School and Berner Middle School, Peer AIDS Educators performed skits for their fellow students, sharing AIDS-related facts such as how the disease is transmitted, what behavior puts people at risk, and how to live with it. The trained student performers from the high school presented the information in an engaging way that allowed their peers to understand the severity of the health crisis.
The Alison Gertz Foundation presented its Love Heals assembly at the high school’s Ames Campus on Dec. 2. Niko Flowers and Jahlove Serrano shared their personal stories of living with HIV, and told ninth-graders how to take the proper precautions to avoid contracting the disease.
The Names Project provided two large quilt panels at each secondary school, which were displayed for the week. Each panel consisted of pieces that were made in honor of someone who died because of AIDS. A public viewing was held in the high school’s Baldwin Auditorium on Dec. 1.
Denise Baldinger, the district’s health education chairwoman who coordinated AIDS Awareness Week, said that having the quilt humanized the disease and made students realize that real people have been and continue to be affected by it. She said the purpose of the week was to teach children and teens about compassion and good decision making. She explained that even though advancements in medicine allow people with AIDS to live much longer than they used to, it is still a very difficult to disease to manage and can be very costly.
“We don’t want our kids to get this horrific disease,” said Baldinger. “It is 100 percent preventable.”