Life’s thrown 15-year-old Jamie Morales a bunch of curve balls. Her mother, uncle, and godfather have all died of AIDS-related illnesses and her father is currently infected. But instead of crying foul, the Kansas teen has stepped up to the plate to educate others about the deadly disease.
“I wanted to get involved because I know what it is like — not being infected, but being affected,” says Jamie. “I did not want anyone to have to go through what I did in order to learn about this disease.”
Jamie started working with youth education groups when she was only 8 years old to warn peers about the risk of contracting HIV and to explain how they could protect themselves. One group she worked with developed ads that ran in local movie theaters and an educational video that was shown in the Wichita, Kansas, school system.
In the 8th grade, Jamie traveled around Kansas, sharing her family’s sad story with about 5,000 people — kind of puts that class oral presentation in perspective, doesn’t it? She’s also been involved in fund-raising events, designing hand-painted scarves, and participating in AIDS Walks every year.
Her personal crusade hasn’t gone by unnoticed. In 1998 she received the Metropolitan Life Foundation/National AIDS Fund “Caring Counts” award for her efforts to educate and her positive attitude in the face of tragic circumstances.
Jamie recently spoke at World AIDS Day in Washington, D.C., and at the Ryan White National Youth Conference on HIV and AIDS. And she says her plans for future include more of the same.
Those that know her say she’s pretty shy but becomes empowered on stage when sharing her intimate knowledge of being affected by AIDS. Jamie says it’s simple: “The more that is done to educate, the more that is done to save other people.”
Enjoy this piece?
… then let us make a small request. AlterNet’s journalists work tirelessly to counter the traditional corporate media narrative. We’re here seven days a week, 365 days a year. And we’re proud to say that we’ve been bringing you the real, unfiltered news for 20 years—longer than any other progressive news site on the Internet.
It’s through the generosity of our supporters that we’re able to share with you all the underreported news you need to know. Independent journalism is increasingly imperiled; ads alone can’t pay our bills. AlterNet counts on readers like you to support our coverage. Did you enjoy content from David Cay Johnston, Common Dreams, Raw Story and Robert Reich? Opinion from Salon and Jim Hightower? Analysis by The Conversation? Then join the hundreds of readers who have supported AlterNet this year.
Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Help ensure AlterNet remains independent long into the future. Support progressive journalism with a one-time contribution to AlterNet, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you. Click here to donate by check.