Thursday, December 15, 2011

World AIDS Day 2011

World AIDS Day Commissioner's Award

By: John Franklin

December 1, 2011 as we all know was World Aids Day. On the day prior, my program, Youth for Change, took part in hosting the Worlds Aids Day Photo Voice event at City Hall. Unfortunately I could not attend the event due to having to go to a ceremony in Albany to accept the AIDS Institute World AIDS Day Commissioner's award. I saw the opportunity as an honor, and a novel experience that motivated me to do more work in my community. However, the award itself wasn’t the highlight of the journey. When I arrived in Albany after a four hour drive from Rochester, I could feel my enthusiastic attitude rising as anticipation motivated me to take step after step. I cherished each and every step before entering into the sanctuary where the ceremony was held. As I walked around looking amazed at the fine art that was presented before me, I suddenly stopped after realizing that what I was observing was more than art. It was the emotional tapestry woven together by the hands of those who lost loved ones in the fight against HIV/AIDS. Aisle after aisle of large quilts with designs, and each quilt represented a memorial to the designer’s loved ones. The emotional burden that I felt weighed on my heart, but I could not bring myself to stop until I saw every last quilt.
After embracing the personal stories told through the quilts, the ceremony began and I understood what a privilege it was to be sitting there. I usually don’t care too much for awards, but this one was different. I watched others accept there awards, and saw the same look of determination in their eyes that I had in my heart. Once they called the Rochester Coalition to Stop HIV members up, I stood holding back a burst of emotion from witnessing such an event. I accepted my certificate and felt a strong urge to get back to my city, not because I was uninterested in what was happening there. I needed to get back so The next time I went to an award ceremony I could stand up with pride in knowing that HIV/AIDS was a thing of the past.

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