ELIZABETHTOWN-Local students throughout the region have been able to learn more about HIV/AIDS while helping to bring smiles to those afflicted with the disease.
Operation Teddy Bear, which has been conducted in Westport, Elizabethtown-Lewis, Willsboro and Crown PointCentral Schools, as well as Saranac Lake Middle School, through the Essex County Department of Public Health, helps students learn more about the disease while creating teddy bears that are sent to patients.
"This is a program that promotes HIV awareness and gives them a chance to make a difference," Kathy Daggett, director of preventative services with the ECDPH, said. "Students are taught different things about HIV and the immune system, how HIV affects the body, and also about bullying and the stigma that can be attached to someone living with HIV. It's education and awareness on the matter."
Daggett said that after the discussions, the students are then challenged to create a teddy bear to give to someone who is affected by the disease.
"The variety of ways that the students personalize them are so cute," Daggett said. "You can tell that they put a lot of effort and thoughtfulness into their creations."
"Operation Teddy Bear is a unique program that allows students the opportunity to show kindness to others while learning a great deal about HIV and other communicable diseases," Rebecca Lewis, health teacher at ELCS, said. "This type of education will help in the prevention of disease and will also help foster a generation that is compassionate to others regardless of their medical status."