May 28, 2010
Dance, music, and the spoken word will be employed in the cause of HIV prevention at upcoming performances in Miami.
"Reaching the Surface" is targeted toward minorities and youth at risk for HIV/AIDS. Ronderrick Mitchell, a New World School of the Arts dance major, is both a performer in the program and a representative of the audience he hopes to reach.
"I won't shut up and shut down," he said. "I consider myself a representative for a group that is afraid to speak. I'm HIV-positive, I'm a black man, I'm gay and I'm 26."
"Reaching the Surface" is a cooperative venture with Alert Health, a nonprofit in North Miami that offers STD testing. The effort represents a natural blending of arts and Alert Health's health-promotion activities, said Director of Special Programming Pioneer Winter.
"Stigma is created from not being able to see similarities," Winter said. "We all know someone who is either affected or infected."
According to the Florida Department of Health, blacks account for 71 percent of Floridians ages 13-24 living with HIV/AIDS. Hispanics account for 15 percent.
"Too many young people still believe that if their partner doesn't look sick, they're safe. We need to educate them," said Alert Health Project Coordinator Jon Kelly. "This is an urgent message that we're trying to get out to the community."
Performances of "Reaching the Surface" are free and open to the public. They are scheduled for June 4 at the Museum of Contemporary Art Plaza, 770 NE 125th St., and June 5 at the Little Haiti Cultural Center, 260 NE 59th Ter. Both performances will be at 8 p.m. More information is available at 305-893-7992 ext. 106., or www.alerthealth.org.