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Students use arts to bring World AIDS Day awareness

Students use arts to bring World AIDS Day awareness

KENTWOOD—French poet Victor Hugo said, “Music expresses that which cannot be put into words.” On Dec. 1, this statement was backed by three lyricist at Kentwood High Magnet School as they battle rapped during the Southern University Agricultural Research and Extension Center’s, “Dream Big! End It” World Aids Day event.

Contestants were challenged to develop an artistic piece for their peers that would bring awareness about ending the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

More than 200 students filled the Kentwood High School gym anxiously waiting to cheer on their favorite contestant. AIDS Healthcare Foundation Regional Coordinator Sashika Baunchand told students about the startling statistics on HIV/AIDS cases that were just released this month.

Kentwood High School Battle Rapped winners from left are Corey Moore second place winner Lil' James Gibson third place winner and Cornelius Moore first place winner

Kentwood High School Battle Rapped winners from left are Corey Moore second place winner Lil’ James Gibson third place winner and Cornelius Moore first place winner

For example, the Baton Rouge metro area ranks second among major United States metro areas for new HIV infection diagnoses, according to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report.

Comedian Tony King told the youth that these statistics were not being “shared to scare them, but to help them make sound decisions when it comes to things that can ultimately affect their future.”

“Ending the AIDS epidemic is possible, but only by educating our youth and connecting them with people who have access to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support services,” said Baunchand.

The World AIDS Day activities began at the St. Helena College and Career Academy, as gifted and talented art students Shy’Janae Hookfin and Javier Smith unveiled the “Dream Big! End It” social change mural.

Students at Kentwood High Magnet School gathered during their lunch shift for a Poetry Slam, using word play to encourage their peers to dream big and end the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

Organizers said “Dream Big! End It” means empowering youth in Louisiana, to take a stand for people who may not necessarily be able to stand for themselves.

“It encourages the students to be a voice of reason when their peers are being pressured into compromising situations. It also opens the door for dialogue with key decision makers in congress when youth dream big to end this crippling epidemic,” said Nicolette Gordon, assistant area youth agent at the SU Ag Center.

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