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Teachers College, Columbia University
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Stitching Together Education and Reflection about HIV/AIDS

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CONTRIBUTING COLLAGES

TC students made patches to be added to a massive blanket

CONTRIBUTING COLLAGES

TC students made patches to be added to a massive blanket

All public high schools are required to conduct HIV/AIDS awareness and prevention trainings with their students. Veronica Holly, Assistant Director of TC’s Institute for Urban and Minority Education (IUME) thinks that’s fine, but sees a need to add another dimension to that experience—the space, both physical and emotional, to reflect on what the epidemic has meant in society.
 
With that in mind, last year, Holly, who is also a doctoral student in the Organization and Leadership Department, applied for and received an AmeriCorps grant in collaboration with the TC Peace Corps Fellows program to conduct a unique project with selected partnering high schools that provides young people both with education and the opportunity to create artwork about HIV/AIDS.
 
The heart of the project is the creation by students of 8 x 11 inch art patches—made-up collages of images and text from newspapers and magazines—that later this year will be laminated and stitched into a massive blanket—much in the manner of the AIDS quilt that was created in Washington, D.C. a decade ago—by Danny Tisdale, a New York City multimedia artist and teacher who also is President of Harlem World.
 
Holly is working with two Harlem education partners this year on her initiative.  This spring she organized an AIDS awareness week program for Wadleigh Secondary School for the Visual and Performing Arts, and will work with the Harlem Children’s Zone’s TRUCE program this summer where Laura Vural, a TC adjunct faculty member in the Art and Art Education Program, is Director of Education. Assisted by two TC students who received AmeriCorp Fellowships—Sandra Overo, who is also a student at Union Theological Seminary, and Alexander Pope, a doctoral student in the Department of International and Transcultural Studies, Holly and Tisdale spent an hour a day during Wadleigh’s AIDS Awareness Week with high school students, using the first 30 minutes for awareness/prevention education and the rest of the time for creating patches.
 
Another partner in the effort is Robert Fullilove, Associate Dean of Community and Minority Affairs and Professor of Clinical Sociomedical Sciences at Columbia’s Mailman School of Public Health (and also an adjunct faculty member in TC’s Department of Health and Behavior Studies), who has functioned as the project’s HIV/AIDS expert, providing, among other things, much of the statistical information that was broadcast on the schools’ public address systems during the weeklong trainings.
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