Bay Area High School Students Use Art to Learn About HIV/AIDS

    Fourth Annual “Don’t Turn Your Back on AIDS” Competition Increases Disease Awareness Among Youth


    OAKLAND, Calif.–Students from more than 15 Bay Area high schools are participating in the Flowers Heritage Foundation’s Fourth Annual “Don’t Turn Your Back on AIDS” art competition to highlight the impact the disease continues to have on young people. According to an April 2009 study by the California Department of Health Services Office of AIDS, more than 30 percent of all persons living with HIV/AIDS in California are between the ages of 13 and 29. The competition is part of an interactive program during which students learn important information regarding HIV/AIDS and are challenged to express their views of the disease through art.

    “Unfortunately, many young people do not know the basic facts about HIV risk and prevention. Our goal with the Don’t Turn Your Back on AIDS art competition is to not only educate local teenagers and help reduce their risk behaviors, but also to foster a safe and creative environment where they can share their feelings about HIV/AIDS through art,” said Gregory Edwards, Ed.D., executive director of the Flowers Heritage Foundation.

    The program culminates with an exhibition and reception at the Waterfront Hotel in Oakland on December 5 from 2:00 pm to 4:30 pm during World AIDS weekend. The event will include a silent auction for the student artwork with proceeds going towards future HIV/AIDS awareness programs for youth and an awards ceremony during which the winners receive prize money and earn matching funds for their school art departments. The judges for the event are Bay Area museum representatives and artists, including Barbara Henry, Chief Curator of Education, Oakland Museum; Stephanie Cannizzo, Curatorial Associate, Berkeley Art Museum; Ahmed Rahim, CEO & Co-Founder of Numi Tea; Sharaine Bell, artist; and Susan Walton, art teacher.

    Last year, students from 15 local high schools submitted 150 works of art for the competition. Previous program participants have become HIV/AIDS peer educators in their schools, public health ambassadors in their communities and pursued careers in public health. In addition, several students received full scholarships to art institutions such as the California College of Art, The Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising and Academy of Art in San Francisco using their “Don’t Turn Your Back on AIDS” art pieces as admissions materials.

    About Flowers Heritage Foundation

    The Flowers Heritage Foundation is a non-profit 501(c) (3) organization dedicated to identifying and addressing unmet needs in health care services and systems. Based in Oakland, California, the Foundation offers short and long-term public health solutions and works closely with partners, collaborators, communities, and stakeholders to achieve successful and sustainable outcomes. The Foundation was established by the Flowers family and is an outgrowth of their belief in giving back to the communities they serve. For more information, please visit www.flowersheritagefoundation.com.

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