Have you ever wanted to impact the lives of less fortunate people but your life is too busy to donate time? Are you uncomfortable about giving money to a big name charity because it pays exorbitant salaries with only a small share going to its publicized programs?
In 1998, Dr. John Chittick (Harvard University, Ed.D.) left behind his home and art publishing company in Boston to undertake the first Global AIDS Walk in history. In the 15 years since, his work has taken him to 86 countries where he has lived in remote villages and walked without fear through violence prone slums to train youth how to save their friends from an avoidable danger. He has been arrested in Cuba, his materials confiscated in China, placed under house arrest in Kenya, threatened with kidnapping in Colombia, confronted child soldiers in the Congo and fought sex trafficking in Cambodia. Yet he persists because he believes that the fight is too important to give up on.
His story is totally unique - one of the most inspiring you will hear. Best of all, you can be a part of the mission from the comfort of your living room or office. It’s a selfless humanitarian effort to reach youth at risk here in America and abroad. Our friend and mentor “Dr. John” is an unsung hero in the battle to stop adolescent HIV/AIDS that has now reached pandemic proportions.
Are you surprised to hear that a crisis currently exists? Many well-meaning people assume the threat is over -- but it’s not. The sad truth is HIV is growing fastest now among sexually active youths (the majority begins sex at age 16). The CDC reports that one out of four new cases occurs among 13 to 19 years. Dr. John has made the Stop Youth AIDS war his sole purpose and full-time mission. Why? “Because if we don’t do it,” he explains, “who will?”
This unlikely foot soldier in the international AIDS prevention campaign is 65 years young. Despite his own significant health issues (debilitating heart disease, quadruple bypass and severe diabetes) he is devoting his adult life and energy to personally reaching as many vulnerable youth as possible – already 300,000 to date. And he doesn't accept a salary to do it!
Who else do you know is willing to make this kind of sacrifice, isn’t independently wealthy and wants all monies raised to go to educational programs? Why would a successful businessman donate his life savings to start a 501 (c) 3 non-profit and then live under the poverty line?
“In my time I’ve know at least 100 youth that have died from AIDS and it breaks my heart,” he stated. “I wish I had talked to each one before they contracted HIV.” Dr. John pledges he won’t stop until their generation is better informed and trained to educate their partners and peers.
Without fanfare, he serves as an unofficial American ambassador to youth worldwide. They’re surprised to see this portly white-haired guy clad in a Hawaiian shirt walking in their neighborhoods -- especially once the word spreads that he is on a one-man mission who receives no personal money except donations to cover travel expenses. Many families open their modest doors to share food and lodging when they hear their teens can join his all volunteer PeerCorps team (the innovative training concept based on his groundbreaking Harvard doctoral research and years in the field).
Our goal is to raise $10,000 by December 1st, World AIDS Day to put Dr. John's walking shoes back on. Countless young people globally and in the U.S. are anxious to know when Dr. John is coming to their communities so they can become involved. His obvious passion, humor and engaging personality empower youth to make their own sacrifices.
Dr. John fervently believes it is the human right of all maturing adolescents to have full access to the medically accurate facts to protect their bodies regardless of cultural taboos that censor the information. This is especially true for young females and their babies yet to be born. “We absolutely must stop youthful mistakes being made before they become human tragedies,” he argues.
In Africa, AIDS has devastated a generation of young people and he has been present in darkened huts as another young person takes their last breath. In Southeast Asia he and his team counsel teen sex workers to return to their rural homes because otherwise they will surely die from being forced to take clients without condoms being used. In the U.S. he explains to sexually active adolescents that birth control pills don’t prevent HIV and condoms are necessary. He answers heartbreaking questions to his “Ask Dr. John” internet column (since 1994). Wherever schools and governments once took responsibility but don’t any longer, he is there leading by example.
“I know we’re saving young lives,” he reports, “But I need your help today.”
P.S., Dr. John and TeenAIDS is looking for groups, businesses and entrepreneurs to sponsor different legs of his walks -- including regular Skype calls and email reports.
Maybe a generous funder is interested in serving on our Board of Directors?