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Georgia 9th-Graders Get Lesson on AIDS

April 26, 2002

Ninth-graders from Fayette County High School in Georgia filled Sams Auditorium last week to learn a lesson about life, and even more about death, as guest speakers talked about AIDS. The AIDS awareness program was sponsored by Peachtree City, Fayetteville and Fayette Daybreak Rotary clubs. The guests, who were from AID Atlanta, educated the teens on AIDS and shared personal stories.

J.R. Watson, 47 described how he learned from an insurance policy blood test, seven years ago, that he had HIV. "I didn't fit the category of drug abuser or homosexual. And I didn't even have blood transfusions. I was just involved with a woman who was unfaithful to me," said Watson, who now has AIDS. "There is no way I want to see any of you live with what I've had to live with."

The AID Atlanta volunteers brought several panels from the AIDS Memorial Quilt, which were draped over the stage. Margie Huwig, director of the NAMES Project for the Atlanta chapter, is responsible for maintaining the AIDS quilt and explained the significance of the size of each section. "Each panel is 3 by 6 feet, because it's the same size as a coffin," she said. "These panels are just part of a bigger quilt with 46,000 panels that if stretched out would be over 54 miles." Once the program was over, students had a chance to talk with the speakers and examine the quilt more closely.

The program was also presented at Starr's Mill High School. Rotary Club members hope McIntosh and Sandy Creek High Schools will be able to schedule the program before school ends. AIDS awareness for teens is the Rotary's top project this year.

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Excerpted from:
Atlanta Journal-Constitution
04.25.02; Abby G. Brunks

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