Posted February 23, 2007

THEO health program awarded

The “Red Lounge,” an HIV and AIDS education event developed by students in the Temple Health Empowerment Office, recently won a national award for outstanding programming.

“THEO was awarded for its Red Lounge because it’s an innovative program,” said Kari Kuka, associate director of operations for BACCHUS, a national health education organization. “It demonstrated impact and can easily be replicated on other campuses.”

Each year, BACCHUS receives more than 100 applications for its outstanding program award, which is presented during its annual General Assembly.

In 2006, Temple’s Red Lounge stood out among several nominated programs from colleges across the county, Kuka said.

Using creativity as a backdrop, a diverse group of Temple students gathered in the “Red Lounge” on Dec. 1, 2006 — World AIDS Day — to enjoy performances and presentations that focused on the international HIV and AIDS epidemic.

Instead of limiting the program to medical discussions about the disease, THEO students created an event that allowed participants to address the epidemic through various art forms.

The three-hour presentation included poetry, dance and music focused on prevention, education and continued dialogue about the HIV and AIDS on college campuses.

“It’s edutainment,” said Alicia Czachowski, a THEO graduate extern. “Sometimes, it’s easier to get students to discuss difficult issues like AIDS and HIV in a setting that allows them to express themselves creatively.”

Although numerous HIV and AIDS prevention campaigns target young adults, creative programming works best within a college demographic, Czachowski said.

“There are medications available that prevent those who have the disease from becoming sick, and people generally live longer, so you don’t hear about [AIDS] as often as you did 20 years ago,” she said. “It’s important to make sure students know AIDS is still a serious threat.

“We don’t want to depress students with a bunch of statistics,” Czachowski continued. “We’re trying to enlighten them about the disease and empower them to make smart choices.”