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News - March 1997

ELIZABETH, NJ STUDENTS LEARN ABOUT AIDS EDUCATION

--Courageous Fourth-Grade Teacher Takes Risk Teaching Students About AIDS--

New York City-- Although it has been more than 15 years since the emergence of the AIDS epidemic, teaching elementary-school children about AIDS is still considered controversial. But that's not true at Theodore Roosevelt Elementary and Middle School in Elizabeth, NJ, where Greg Nowlan, a 48-year-old fourth-grade school teacher, will ask his students to participate in the September 1997 Boston> New York AIDS Ride 3. As part of the curriculum for 40 fourth-grade students, Greg will teach a course about philanthropy and charity in which his students will participate in fundraising for the AIDS Ride. The Boston>New York AIDS Ride is a three-day bicycle tour in which more than 2,000 people will bicycle 250 miles through New England to New York City (September 12 through 14, 1997) to raise vital funds for HIV prevention and AIDS services for the New York Lesbian & Gay Community Services Center and Community Health Project.

On Tuesday March 4, 1997 at 12:30 at the Roosevelt Elementary School (650 Bayway Avenue, Elizabeth, NJ), Greg Nowlan will introduce his 40 fourth-grade students to the Boston>New York AIDS Ride. Through the Youth in Philanthropy program, sponsored by the National Society of Fundraising Executives, the children will be introduced to the concept of charity and fundraising; as well as the specific project at hand -- helping their teacher raise more than $1,200 for AIDS services and HIV prevention. Later in May 1997, Greg's fourth-grade class will participate in the Spring Philanthropy Fair, in which they will exhibit and explain their efforts in fundraising for the Boston>New York AIDS Ride.

While New York City and Northern New Jersey account for the highest concentration of AIDS cases in the United States -- more AIDS cases than Los Angeles, San Francisco, Dallas, and Washington DC combined -- few people in Greg's community have addressed AIDS as a major threat. Greg said, "I cannot articulate the great sadness I have for all the people I know who have died of AIDS. I recently watched one of my colleagues waste from AIDS and die. I have had students whose families have been affected by AIDS. Many of the families in this community are immigrants who do not understand AIDS and who do not have access to the prevention and treatments. I was pushed to the edge and compelled to participate in the AIDS Ride this year when one of my students showed me a picture of her favorite uncle who had recently died of AIDS -- she was devastated."

Greg was born in Jersey City and he has lived in Northern New Jersey all his life. A divorced father of two adult children, Greg currently lives in Rahway, NJ. Greg has supported other charities -- including the American Diabetes Foundation, for which he was recently honored at a reception in January 1997 as one of its top fundraisers in New Jersey; as well as the American Heart Association and the Big Brothers program. Greg is bi-lingual in Spanish -- nearly half of his students' families immigrate from Spanish- speaking countries.

Greg continued, "It seems that AIDS is going non-stop and the fastest-growing HIV infection group is youth and teenagers. Part of my interest in this issue is educational for my students. One of the things I like about the AIDS Ride is that it is supporting the Lesbian and Gay Center, which has a lot of AIDS- and HIV-prevention programs available for youth."

Ms. Nancy Powers works with Greg Nowlan at Roosevelt Elementary School where she has been a teacher for 14 years. Nancy said, "When I heard Greg was going to participate in the AIDS Ride, I though it was a great idea to bring into the classroom. Greg is great with children -- the kids will respond very well to him.... I think education is necessary to bring about awareness of this disease to this community."

BOSTON>NEW YORK AIDS RIDE GREG NOWLAN BIOGRAPHICAL INFORMATION

Mr. Gregory Nowlan is a 48-year-old fourth-grade school teacher at Theodore Roosevelt Elementary School who will participate in the September 1997 Boston> New York AIDS Ride 3. As a part of the curriculum for 40 fourth-grade students, Greg will teach a course about philanthropy and charity in which his students will participate in fundraising. Greg chose the Boston>New York AIDS Ride because he has been concerned about the AIDS epidemic since it first emerged nearly 15 years ago.

He said, "When I read about the AIDS Ride, it struck me as a time to take a stand to do what I can do. It is difficult for me to articulate the sadness I have for the countless number of people who have been lost to AIDS. I had watched one of my colleagues recently waste from AIDS and die. I have had students whose families have been affected by AIDS. Many of the families in this community are immigrants who do not understand AIDS and who do not have access to the prevention and treatments available. I was pushed to the edge and compelled to participate in the AIDS Ride this year when one of my students showed me a picture of her favorite uncle who had recently died of AIDS -- she was devastated.

"It seems that AIDS is going non-stop and the fastest growing HIV infection group is youth and teenagers. Part of my interest in this issue is educational for my students. One of the things I like about the AIDS Ride is that it is supporting the Lesbian and Gay Center which has a lot of AIDS- and HIV-prevention programs available for youth."

Greg was born in Jersey City and he has lived in Northern New Jersey all his life. A divorced father of two adult children, Greg currently lives in Rahway, NJ. Greg has supported other charities, including the American Diabetes Foundation, for which he was recently honored at a reception in January 1997 as one of its top fundraisers in New Jersey; as well as the American Heart Association and the Big Brothers program.

BOSTON>NEW YORK AIDS RIDE NJ SPOKESPEOPLE

Mr. Osh Khulblall is the father of 10-year-old Felicia who is a fourth-grade student in teacher Greg Nowlan's class at Roosevelt Elementary School. An accountant for a New Jersey-based real-estate investor, Mr. Khulblall immigrated from Guyana to Northern New Jersey in 1981 and currently lives in Elizabeth, NJ, with his wife and two daughters. Mr. Khulblall said, "I want my daughter Felicia to understand that AIDS is a serious disease. I want her to be more compassionate to the needs of everyone in our community. Although I am aware there are millions of people with AIDS in the world, when you talk with others who have experienced the disease or you watch TV, you merely think you know their pain. However, in truth AIDS seems distant in my own life -- I am not aware how many people in Elizabeth have AIDS. I want my daughter to understand this is a disease that she needs to know and care about."

Ms. Nancy Powers works with Greg Nowlan at Roosevelt Elementary School where she has been a teacher for 14 years. Nancy said, "I knew a counselor here at Roosevelt, John Robertson, who had died of AIDS a few years ago. When I heard Greg was going to participate in the Boston>New York AIDS Ride, I though it was a great idea to bring into the classroom. Greg is great with children -- the kids will respond very well to him.. I think education is necessary to bring about awareness of this disease. There is a movement away from the stigma and shame of AIDS -- time to do the work around prevention. Greg is the first person I know to try to reach into our community about this issue and that is good. We all know it is out there, but I do not know how well prepared or educated our community is."

Ms. Jean Cina is the Principal at Roosevelt Elementary School in Elizabeth, NJ. She said, "My reaction to Greg's idea to teach about the AIDS Ride was positive. Despite the possible controversy that the AIDS Ride benefits gay and lesbian organizations, I was not concerned. Our community has been affected by AIDS -- we have had parents who have died of AIDS and a counselor, John Roberts, died of AIDS a few years ago. Many teachers liked John, and he was an asset to our school. Although everyone is aware of AIDS, how involved they want to get, I am not sure. I suspect that having known someone like John who died of AIDS helps. At least this AIDS Ride project will allow our community to shed more light on the subject."

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