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Raising HIV Awareness Through the Arts

May 8, 2013

Kelly Blake 301-405-9418

COLLEGE PARK, Md. - The University of Maryland School of Public Health's Prevention Research Center (PRC) and UMD's Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center are partnering with the Prince George's County, Md., city of Seat Pleasant to launch the CREATE for Change program.

This arts-based, inter-generational project focuses on raising awareness about HIV and STD prevention through creative expression in Prince George's County, Md. The project will be launched at the fourth annual Seat Pleasant Health Summit at UMD on May, 10, 2013.

A high school student from Seat Pleasant talks about HIV/AIDS awareness among teens in Prince George's County at the third annual Seat Pleasant Health Summit in May 2012.The Health Summit will bring together high school youth and senior citizens from Seat Pleasant for a fun, educational experience, led by Dr. Brad Boekeloo, director of the Prevention Research Center and professor of behavioral and community health, along with other public health faculty members and students, several performing artists, and Seat Pleasant Mayor Eugene Grant.

Sessions are designed to help residents develop tools to improve health in their communities. Several community participants will be cultivated and trained as community leaders for the CREATE for Change program over a six month period following the summit. CREATE Leaders will be required to problem solve, community organize, take a leadership role, and educate others about HIV. They will receive commendations for community work from elected officials, provide an important service in which youth may receive community service credits, and have the UMD affiliated title of CREATE Leader. CREATE stands for Community Redirection of Expectations through Arts Transformation Experiences.

Launched in 2010, the annual Seat Pleasant Health Summits are the result of an ongoing partnership between Seat Pleasant, Md., and the University of Maryland School of Public Health to reduce racial and ethnic health disparities in this community. Located in Prince George's County, Md., along the eastern border with Washington, D.C., Seat Pleasant is a predominantly African-American community with disproportionately high rates of obesity, diabetes, hypertension and HIV/AIDS.

This is the first year that the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center joins the Prevention Research Center and Seat Pleasant Mayor Eugene W. Grant in planning the Seat Pleasant Health Summit and the first time that its focus is on engaging community members in becoming leaders who will utilize the arts to influence better health outcomes.