On World Aids Day, December 1st, members of the Mikva Challenge Teen Health Council and Chicago Public School’s Chief Health Officer Dr. Ken Fox – with the support of the Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) – collaborated in efforts to raise awareness. Dr. Fox had previously met with the Teen Health Council to see how we could do more work around improving sex education in schools. Students talked to Dr. Fox about the importance of sex education and determined that it might be more impactful if sex education was taught by youth themselves. This idea stemmed from last summer, when the Teen Health Council created recommendations around sexual, mental, nutritional and dental health. One of the recommendations was a peer to peer led sex education program. Dr. Fox was intrigued with the idea and wanted to see what first steps we could take. The Council suggested we start with doing some awareness around World AIDS Day and visit schools.

The students took the initiative of talking to their principals about the idea with Dr. Fox also reaching out to principals to spark interest. With two weeks to prepare, the Council was excited to work with CPS schools and talk about the importance of sex education and prevention. As a result of the group’s efforts, Dr. Fox and Teen Council members were able to spend some time on December 1st at Benito Ju√°rez, Infinity HS, Urban Prep Englewood, and Back of the Yards College Prep talking to over 950 students!

The Teen Health Council members from each school did a marvelous job capturing their peers attention and talked about World AIDS Day, how to stay informed, how to stay protected, and what resources are available to youth on this topic. And all those students received Chicago Healthy Adolescents & Teens (CHAT) brochures and Chicago Wears Condoms. At the end of the day, we all learned the importance of raising awareness and that knowledge is power and that leads to prevention.