Talking to students

     These days one of the most satisfying things I do is speaking to students about HIV prevention using my story as an example of what can happen if they do not listen.  The past few years I have had the honor of speaking with my dear friend Annie who's story is completely different from mine but equally as important.  Together we tell about our lives as a gay man and a straight woman who happen to be living with HIV and AIDS.
     As we enter the schools, both Annie and I have a simple goal, to reach the students and stop risky behavior that might lead to the transmission of HIV.  We hope when we speak to each class we can reach and help at least one student in the class to change his or her behavior to stay "safe" from HIV.  We also try hard to give important information that the class can use for further discussion when we leave, discussion with family, friends and classmates.
     Recently we were reminded of why the discussion needs to happen after we leave the class.  At one of the school where we speak, the health teacher told us of a student who's mother had pulled her daughter from class on the day we were speaking because she did not want her daughter exposed to HIV.  She told the teacher that  she knew that HIV was "highly contagious" and did not want her daughter to "catch it" from Annie and me.  My first thought when I heard this was that this mother needed to be here in this class.  My second thought, after over 30 years of HIV and people still have bad or no information about it.  Yikes!!!
     At one of the schools we do a "parent night" where we do our presentation for the parents of the school students.  Last year we had scheduled a parent night and not one parent showed up.  The teacher, Annie and I were all so very disappointed but not really surprised.  These days parents are so busy that learning about HIV is not high on their to do list.  They have to work, run their children to sporting events, music or dance lessons, etc. and they don't think too much about attending a class that their children already listened to.  Still, we think it is very important that the parents hear what the students hear so that the conversation about HIV prevention can easily continue at home.
     On Wednesday, April 8th at 7:00 to 8:30 in the evening, Annie and I will again try to speak to parents at the same school.  We are hopeful that there will be at least a few parents in attendance.  This year we will be teaming up with the school's new Sexual Health Education Club.  This club will speak about what they do and what they hope to accomplish.  Perhaps the parents will be interested and then will stay to hear Annie and me talk about our lives with HIV.  We will see...  Stay tuned...
    And if you are interested in more information about the evening class, see below.  I would love to see you there!


 

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Dear Parent or Guardian,


 
Our Embedded Health program provides ongoing health education to students throughout all four years of high school. In order to provide more information to families about your son/daughter's health classes, we invite you to a Sexual Health Education Parent Night. While we cover a variety of topics in classes (communication, mental health, drugs & alcohol, physical wellness, CPR, and more) the focus of this particular evening will pertain to sexual health. A Sexual Health Education Parent Night will be offered every other year. We plan to have another parent event next year featuring drug and alcohol education. It is our hope to partner with you so that we can support conversations about these topics at home. 


 
The goal of this parent night is to provide an opportunity to see what your son/daughter experiences in health class. A majority of the time will be dedicated to listening to an exact 11th grade health class presentation, called “Living with HIV”. Students truly enjoyed the presentation and in the words of one junior boy, “I realized that HIV is not something to mess around with!”.  We also discussed how to change the stigma often associated with HIV.


 
Sexual Health Education Parent Night


Wednesday, April 8, 2015


7:00 – 8:30 pm


High School Room B112 – across from the gym


 
Our agenda will include:
  • Brief overview of how Embedded Health works & curriculum
  • Hear from students in the newly created Sexual Health Education Club (SHEC)
  • Feature presentation: “Living with HIV”; Red Cross certified guest speakers, Duane Bandel and Annie Elmer.


Parents of students in grades 9-12 are encouraged to attend. We appreciate an email RSVP so that we have enough chairs set up, but it is not required. We will also provide materials to take home to encourage dialogue with your son/daughter. We hope you will join us!


 
Thank you,


 
Allison Luskey                                                                                    Amy Pieper-Berchem
Embedded Health teacher                                                              Embedded Health teacher
luskey.allison@slpschools.org                                                        pieper-berchem.amy@slpschools.org 952.928.6241                                                                                     952.928.6136



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