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Eastside Woman Launches “Redefine Positive” Campaign to Create New HIV/AIDS Video Resources for Classrooms in Washington State

Seattle, WA (PRWEB) September 03, 2013

Jodie Howerton of Woodinville, Washington, mother of an HIV positive son, has begun a campaign to ensure that supplemental HIV/AIDS video materials utilized in public schools are up to date. She is partnering with Washington State’s Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI), Seattle Children’s Hospital Foundation, and the documentary film company, North 40 Productions, to create four 12 to 15-minute educational videos to help students in grades 5-12 understand HIV in a real life context. The videos will be available free of charge to all school districts in Washington State and will eventually be available to other school districts across the nation.

In 2010, after having two biological children, Jodie and her husband Mike decided to adopt an HIV positive son from South Africa. Thousands of children in Africa contract HIV/AIDS from their mothers during childbirth every year, but access to beneficial anti-retroviral drugs is limited and HIV/AIDS remains a death sentence for many of these children. In the US, where HIV/ AIDS drugs are more readily available, the disease is now considered a chronic, but manageable illness, and one that can be lived with indefinitely.

Two years ago, when Jodie’s daughter reached 5th grade in their neighborhood public school, parents were given the opportunity to review the HIV/AIDS video materials before they were shown to the students. “I was surprised and concerned by how outdated the video materials were. The videos had been produced in the 1980’s, were fear-based, and contained inaccurate information. HIV/AIDS has changed drastically since then. I could not stand by and let my children and all students in my community not have access to more up to date, relevant educational videos about HIV and AIDS,” says Howerton. After voicing her concerns to her daughter’s teacher, to the school principal, and to the Health Coordinator at Northshore School District, she collaborated with the district to identify new video resources for classroom use. After nearly a year of searching, neither Sandra Tracy, Health and Nursing Supervisor at Northshore School District, nor Howerton, found engaging materials in the marketplace that met their high standards. So, Howerton decided to create a new set of educational video resources.

Howerton approached OSPI with the idea of creating these new HIV/AIDS video materials. OSPI is charged with helping districts provide accurate and comprehensive HIV and Sexual Health Education that is in compliance with state guidelines and laws. OSPI has offered to help Jodie on her quest. “We want our students to have the most up to date information, but budgets are limited at both the state and local level to purchase new materials. We are very excited to partner with Jodie and Seattle Children’s to make this happen,” said Suzanne Hidde, Program Supervisor of HIV/AIDS and Sexual Health at OSPI.

Jodie also approached Seattle Children’s Hospital’s Dr. Ann Melvin, a Pediatric Infectious Disease Specialist, about the project. Dr. Melvin in turn connected Jodie to Seattle Children’s Hospital Foundation, the fundraising arm of Seattle Children’s Hospital. The Foundation has offered to assist with fundraising for the project. Once funds have been raised, production of the four videos will begin, with input from a panel of experts that include physicians, educators, health workers, parents, and individuals living with HIV. The intent is to use an age appropriate, documentary format to tell the story of individuals who live with HIV and AIDS. “We want to engage audiences by telling real stories about how people successfully deal with this chronic disease. The videos will contain accurate medical and social information, scientific information about transmission and prevention, and will also address the emotional and social aspects of HIV and AIDS. Ultimately, we hope the videos will help decrease the devastating stigma and discrimination associated with the disease,” says Howerton.

With the help of Seattle Children’s Hospital Foundation, the Redefine Positive campaign has already raised $23,000 of the $150,000 project budget through grants and private donations. Jodie has turned to the crowd-funding site, Indiegogo, to generate additional funds to propel the project forward. ( Indiegogo is designed to help projects find funding across large audiences. The Indiegogo campaign will finish at the end of September.

For more information contact:
Jodie Howerton

Pledge to our Indiegogo Campaign:

Track campaign progress on Facebook:

Contribute through Seattle Children's Hospital Foundation:
Seattle Children’s Hospital Foundation Fundraising Page

Check out our production company:
North 40 Productions

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