Grassroot Colonials Co-Sponsor GW World AIDS Week
Dec. 3, 2012
WASHINGTON - In honor of GW World AIDS Week, student-athletes involved with the Grassroot Colonials program coordinated with the Student Global AIDS Campaign to sponsor a week-long list of events to raise HIV/AIDS awareness on the George Washington University campus.
Grassroot is a student-athlete created and run organization that brings HIV/AIDS awareness programs to local Washington, D.C., schools in an effort to reduce the prevalence of HIV/AIDS in the community. Key messages are translated to the young students through interactive games led by teams of student-athletes from a combination of Howard, Georgetown and George Washington Universities. Grassroot Colonials is GW's branch of the organization and is largely led by sophomore lacrosse player Mackenzie Jones, who serves as the program's Resource Coordinator.
Grassroot, which is composed purely of Division I varsity student-athletes, stresses awareness as a tool to fight the spread of HIV/AIDS.
"It is very important for us to act in any way that we can to help spread HIV/AIDS awareness," Jones said. "One out of every 20 adults living in D.C. is HIV positive, and rates in young people continue to rise to higher numbers."
Jones and Grassroot Colonials first linked up with the Student Global AIDS Campaign in October regarding the annual D.C. AIDS Walk. Samuel Garret, President of Global AIDS Campaign, invited the Grassroot group to co-sponsor GW Worlds AID Week, which spanned from Nov. 26 through Dec. 1.
GW World AIDS Week has featured many events including fundraisers, awareness films and free HIV testing on campus. The week was highlighted by Wednesday's Fall 2012 Grassroot graduation held in GW's Charles E. Smith Center, and honored participants of this semester's Grassroot program who had completed the curriculum. The week culminated with a Worlds AIDS Day Vigil on Saturday evening in GW's Kogan Plaza at 7 p.m. featuring Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton as a guest speaker.
GW World AIDS Week also allowed students in the program to experience the atmosphere of a college campus. Last Monday night's Community Service-themed men's basketball game invited the Grassroot program to sit courtside. The young Grassroot students also graduated in the same venue where many Colonials will don a student-athlete sash and graduate from their respective schools.
The coming together of the GW community has been indicative of the tireless efforts of the Grassroot program to inform the Washington, D.C., community of the severity of HIV/AIDS. Grassroot and the Student Global AIDS Campaign are truly appreciative of the support given by the Athletics Department and the GW community.
"Educating the youth is just the first step to fighting stigma and discrimination surrounding HIV/AIDS," said junior soccer player and Grassroot Program Coordinator Jane Wallis. "The efforts around campus this week have been inspiring."