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NAMES Project New York City Newsletter
Summer/Fall 1997
Education; Never Too Early
Haitian Video Conference
Letter From the Chair

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Education; Never Too Early (Summer/Fall 1997)
By Jeff Bosacki

The Chapter has been traveling with the Quilt since its beginnings to every possible location. In the past three years we have focused on bringing the Quilt into High Schools and have been very successful in our efforts. This year we took the next step and began working in elementary and middle schools using our "Quilt 101" curriculum. Evaluations and comments from teachers, principals and students have reinforced our belief that it is never too early to talk to our youth about HIV/AIDS.

One of our recent audiences consisted of 5th and 6th graders from Carolina G. Atkinson school in Freeport, New York. Art teacher Carol Rosenthal coordinated the entire day, including the organizing of unfolding team and Quilt monitors, the display of paper and material panels made by the students, and six 12ft x12ft sections of the Quilt for a mini-display. Also included were photos from the display last October in Washington, D.C. taken by Mr. Rosenthal. The day's presentations reached more than 1000 students. Below are letters written to the Chapter the days after our visit.

"I think the presentation was good. We should have more of them. They might teach kids more about AIDS." (5th Grader)

"I definitely loved the Quilt. They were so touching and I almost started to cry (I didn't let anybody see me though). I really hope that other schools will be fortunate enough to see these beautiful works of art." (6th Grader)

"Hi, I was one of the kids that saw the AIDS Quilt. I loved it. I had so many feelings at one time. I hope that the Quilt comes back to our loving helpful school. My first thought was my uncle who died of AIDS Christmas 1991. Thank you so much to help me understand what my uncle was going through. Thank you for coming, feel free to come again." (6th Grader).

"I thought that the AIDS Quilt coming to our school was a good experience because it taught people a lot. It is nice that people are so nice and care so much to take time out from their lives to make a Quilt for someone they lost that they loved." (5th Grader).

Another middle school we visited was in Hoboken, New Jersey. Their active participation and inquisitive questions only strengthened our commitment to always include all age groups who wish to use the Quilt. The Quilt will return to these schools again next year. We hope that other schools will follow in the footsteps of these schools and not be afraid of teaching their students early!

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Haitian Video Conference (Summer/Fall 1997)
By Elsy Guibert

On Sunday, June 29, 1997 near Queens Village, New York, the Haitian community launched a video documentary entitled "Mon Ami Ari" (My friend Air), an educational HIV/AIDS prevention video tool. The idea was conceived about two years ago and discussed with Haitian physicians as well as others working in the AIDS arena in the United States and Haiti. A questionnaire was created for potential participants and one young Haitian male agreed to respond in front of a camera, others followed suit, and thus the creation of the video.

The goal was to sensitize the community at-large, especially adolescents, on how to make informed decision concerning their sexual behavior in regards to STDs and AIDS. This video was viewed as a testing mechanism for the many Haitians living in New York, especially the professionals who filled out evaluations and provided their feedback. There were approximately 200 conference attendees, including representatives from Agouron pharmaceutical, Roxanne Laboratories, Life Force of New York, and The NAMES Project-NYC.

An extensive publicity campaign was carried on radio and television to help reach the many Haitians in the tri-state area and homeland, Haiti. We are glad that so many responded, including a financial gift, and WNBC attending to cover the event. The Quilt was on display and viewed for the first time by many in the community. An art auction, entertainment and Haitian food were also elements which made for a very successful event. The video will be distributed to hundreds of health institutions in both the United States, Montreal, Canada and Haiti. Two presentations have been scheduled when schools reopen in September.

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Letter From The Chair (Summer/Fall 1997)
By Stephen Noonan

Chapter activities this year have consisted of a wonderful variety of venues for outreach all over New York. Our annual Street Fair was a great success. One of our Queens Borough Delegates facilitated an outreach for the Haitian community and we were happy to be included. In addition, our New York City High School Quilt Program continues to reach thousands of students, even as we plan for the upcoming school year and continued partnership with the National High School Quilt Program.

In the spirit of last years successful outreach in Washington, "Remember Them with your Vote," the Chapter will be working with the Gay Men's Health Crisis and the Lesbian & Gay Community Center on a series of issues forums for the mayoral candidates to be held prior to the November election. In past elections the AIDS crisis has been a critical issue for candidates. Not this year. The media continues to perpetuate the myth that the AIDS crisis is all but over. Statistics indicate that while current death rates may be falling, rates of infection are all but skyrocketing. We may seem to be having a respite from the crisis but it is far from over.

In this the tenth anniversary year of the NAMES Project Foundation, the Chapter is also faced with the question of what our role is as the crisis changes. Is AIDS now a chronic, manageable condition that can be lived with by tens of thousands of individuals? Are prevention and education still issues to be contemplated and discussed? How do we ensure that those who have died thus far have not died in vain and are not forgotten as the world moves on and away from this devastating pandemic?

These are questions facing the Chapter right now and the response is simple. We continue our work. We continue bringing the Quilt into schools, places of worship, backyards, offices. We continue to bring it to anyplace where people can be educated, listen, and remember. We need to speak to those who do not remember or who were not born ten years ago, and let the power of the Quilt continue to work.

An important facet of this work is you. Can you help us keep working? While we may not have large displays with hundreds of panels, we do have that one Quilt section to bring to you. But we need volunteers. We need help with our organizing and planning. The large displays are important, but realize that smaller displays reach tens of thousands of New Yorkers annually.

Please consider commemorating the tenth anniversary of The NAMES Project by becoming a member of the New York City Chapter. We need your support in order to continue the work and to make sure that panels made in memory of those lost to AIDS continue to be seen for years to come.

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