Tuesday, December 16, 2008

World AIDS Day, Team DC

To honor World AIDS Day, our team helped at The Women’s Collective WAD Celebration. The Women’s Collective provides comprehensive life services to African-American women in the DC area. They work to create a safe, non-judgmental environment for all women, girls and families. TWC is a warm, friendly building with a staff that obviously cares about everyone who walks through their doors.
Our day began with a time for food and fellowship followed by an exciting (to say the least) presentation about safer-sex techniques. Women from all over the city and even a few men learned about condoms, stds, and how to pleasure themselves and their partners from a woman clad only in tights and a bustier. We were both informed and entertained. Many questions followed and even a pop quiz with a prize for the winner was given.
The group then listened to presentations from five of our AmeriCorps members about the services their host organizations provide to women. Our members from HIPs, Our Place, Miriam’s House, The Women’s Collective and Children’s National Medical Center were there to talk about their programs. This was followed by a panel discussion and an opportunity for questions. Everyone seemed happy to learn about our placements and all the great things they are doing for DC.
Next, a visitor from the DC Rape Crisis Center treated us to a crash course in self-defense. She taught our group how to confront everything from cat calls to muggings. We all repeated the phrase “elbow, elbow, smash that crotch!, kick the knee, scrape the shin, stamp the foot!” By the end of our session everyone felt safer, empowered, ready to defend themselves on the street, and a little tired.
These activities all tied into the larger aim of our celebration and the goal of both World AIDS Day and The Women’s Collective: to empower people physically, emotionally, and mentally and to become a tighter, more informed community. People of all backgrounds joined together to celebrate those strong women who have passed, those who are struggling, and those who are surviving.
Women asked important questions and received valuable information. We all worked together to build a stronger, more empowered community. We laughed, we cried, and we kicked imaginary assailants in the knees. All in all it was a fun day and the perfect way to spend World AIDS day: celebrating what we have and making strides towards a bright future.

Adam Pepper and Rachel Gutfreund
National AIDS Fund AmeriCorps, Team DC 2008

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