Yesterday Big Sister’s school commemorated World AIDS Day with their annual World AIDS Day walk. If your child attends a New York City school under the DOE, it is very likely that your child was informed about this occasion as it’s in the curriculum to teach children about HIV/AIDS.
Our school in particular, starts this day off by reading a wonderful age appropriate book about HIV/AIDS called Come Sit by Me written by Margaret Merrifield. It’s a great story about a school-aged boy with AIDS and how he was being discriminated and left out of the group. When parents heard about this, they find a way to bring everyone together and help curtail their fears and find some compassion.
Additionally, the permanent standing AIDS tree in the lobby gets its lighting ceremony. The community is welcome to take one of its tags and write a note or a memory of someone they know who has/had HIV/AIDS. The commemoration is closed by the parade of children and their community, a walk from school to across the street where they hold banners expressing hope, education, compassion and tolerance. They take a moment at the plaza across the street to march and sing songs (ie: Make New Friends).
As a parent, I was deeply moved by seeing my child and her friends being little mini-advocates. They may not fully understand the meaning of HIV/AIDS or comprehend in full why we must bring attention to fully educate ourselves about this disease but to see, in action, the community that I purposefully made our family be a part of extend the same values outside of our home comforted me.
…it also makes my touring of schools up and down the east side of Manhattan and my stalking of our now school secretary, all worthwhile.