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November 30, 2011

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Students AIDing with awareness event

RELATED POSTS Students give record food donation to ASN Tanzania is where the heart is: students partner with non-profit to raise HIV awareness Downtown concert series draws the SLO community together Studious students study SLO’s sites "We basically provide [those with AIDS] with services to keep them stable," volunteer coordinator for the AIDS Support Network Karla Quiroga said about people living with AIDS in San Luis Obispo County. "We'll help them with housing and counseling. We have a food bank so that they can access food. They can get counseling on different eligible benefits." -Courtesy Photo

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The quarter-long work of five Cal Poly students will culminate this Thursday with World AIDS Day in the University Union (UU) plaza and throughout San Luis Obispo. Recreation, parks and tourism administration (RPTA) students worked with the San Luis Obispo AIDS Support Network (ASN) to produce the day’s events as part of their RPTA 210, Introduction to Program Design class. ASN is a network providing services to individuals living with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) in San Luis Obispo County. The volunteer coordinator for the organization Karla Quiroga said  though it is not a clinic, the Network does provide an array of services for patients. “We basically provide them with services to keep them stable,” Quiroga said. “We’ll help them with housing and counseling. We have a food bank so that they can access food. They can get counseling on different eligible benefits.” The class creates groups of students and pairs them with a local organization to plan a program for their agency. Recreation, parks and tourism administration junior Kendra Reay — one of the students working on planning World AIDS Day —said her background played a large part in the decision to work with ASN. Reay spent the past two summers working in Tanzania, where she increased her awareness of HIV-prevention and helped with community building. Her experiences there led her to choose the Network as her agency for the class, and she said she convinced her group to take on the project with her. “It’s just cool because we actually care about it and relate to it,” Reay said. “I think that’s why we’ve dedicated so much time to it.” To celebrate World AIDS Day, participants will form a human AIDS ribbon in three places around San Luis Obispo. There will be one at San Luis Obispo High School, one at Mission Plaza and  one in the UU plaza.

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Quiroga said she wanted to work with the Cal Poly students to expand the program beyond its original two locations at the high school and in the UU plaza. She hasn’t looked back since.

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“(The students) have been great,” she said. “They are extremely enthusiastic and have really great connections and an ability to network and get their peers involved as well.” Group member and recreation, parks and tourism administration sophomore Lizzie Sapiro said  working with the Network has provided the group with a look at what their careers will be like when they are older. “This type of thing is exactly what we’ll be doing in our professions,” Reay said. “So it’s totally the Learn By Doing thing, right off the bat.” The group created a 30-page programming guide for World AIDS Day that will be put into action Thursday. They also created three different flyers that were hung Tuesday at each location, including downtown San Luis Obispo. “For each location, there’s different target populations,” Reay said. “So that was something we needed to assess what was the best way to promote to our target population.” The students also created Facebook events for each of the three locations. As of Tuesday, there were 12 marked “attending” at the downtown Mission, approximately 50 at the high school and 200 at Cal Poly. Quiroga said she will consider it a successful program if 100 people come to the event at Cal Poly, and 50 attend at the other two locations. Since most of the planning from the students is over, now they must wait for the event.

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“We’re really just hoping people will come,” Quiroga said. “That’s really all we can do. Especially with an event like this, you just advertise the best you can and then hope for the best turnout.” Following World AIDS Day, ASN will hold its “Eat Out, Save Lives” event on Dec. 2. According to the website, 22 San Luis Obispo restaurants are participating by donating a portion of their proceeds to ASN on Friday. Some participating restaurants include Big Sky Café, Chino’s Rock and Tacos, Kreuzberg CA and Splash Café.

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Students who wish to participate are encouraged to attend the event and wear a red T-shirt at 11:15 a.m. in the UU plaza, with an AID-ribbon inspired picture taken at 11:30 a.m. The event at the Mission Plaza will begin at 12:45 p.m., with a photo taken at 1 p.m.

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Quiroga said she understands it may be difficult for Cal Poly students to find time to come to the events on Thursday, but she said she hopes the turnout will still be strong. “I know that it’s definitely a challenge to find ways to honor World AIDS Day at Cal Poly because it always falls in dead week,” she said. “So hopefully those who are aware of it are able to find a few minutes to make a big impact on that day.” TAGS: AIDS, AIDS Support Network, featured, Karla Quiroga, Kendra Reay, Lizzie Sapiro, Mission Plaza, San Luis Obispo Hig, Sean McMinn, UU Plaza, World AIDS Day

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Sean McMinn is a journalism sophomore and Mustang Daily staff writer.

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Students AIDing with awaeness event