January 24, 2013
The Martin Luther King Jr., Commission of Florida sponsored a "Road to Zero Block Party" on January 19 at the King Center in Gainesville, Fla. Young adults, teens, and some children attended the party. Rashad Jones of EPIC Consulting Services of Marion County hosted the occasion and declared, "We have prizes to make sure you learn, and the goal is to get to zero in the HIV/AIDS rate, dating violence, and drug abuse." Speakers urged participants to avoid risky behaviors. Theresa White, regional minority AIDS coordinator for Area 3/13 at the Alachua County Health Department, spoke about HIV/AIDS and sexually transmitted diseases. Kristen Stone, child and youth advocate of the organization Peaceful Paths, addressed the topic of dating violence; and Gwen Love, prevention services coordinator at CDS Family Services, discussed drug abuse.
The event offered performances from local artists, step and praise dancing, games, breakfast and lunch, as well as HIV testing opportunities. Attendees won prizes such as gift cards, an iPad Mini, and an iPod Touch. White declared, "To get to zero, we need to get the kids engaged in positive things." She added that the University of Florida, the Gainesville Police Department, members of the faith community, businesses and individuals, and local agencies collaborated to make the "Road to Zero Block Party" possible.