Friday, March 22, 2013

One woman's journey to fight HIV/AIDS

For much of her life, Christin Norris has been making strides to end the disease that took her uncle’s life.

When she was eight years old, Norris lost her uncle to HIV/AIDs. Even then, she recognized the need for advocacy and support.

“My grandmother and Uncle John walked in the Boston AIDS Walk together in 1993. The very next year, he was taken from our family,” said Norris.

When Norris was in middle school, she found her own voice in the fight against HIV/AIDS when she struggled with finding a topic for a writing assignment.

“I finally thought of my uncle and the words began to flow onto a tear-stained paper. After that poem, I began to write more and speak more about my family’s loss,” said Norris.

Norris eventually grew up to become a language arts teacher at Mayport Middle School, where she is sharing her own passion for reading, writing and understanding.

“I tend to surprise myself with the passion I have for promoting awareness,” said Norris, who each year presents an age-appropriate lesson for World AIDS Day on December 1.

“I want my students to be aware of the epidemic. Yet, I don’t want to scare or astound their parents with a full-blown lesson,” she explained in light of varying sensitivities to the subject. In another annual ritual, Norris has taken up her uncle’s torch in raising funds through Boston’s AIDS Walk. Her goal this year is to raise $1,000 in advance of her taking part in this year’s event on Sunday, June 2.

For Norris, this work continues to be a family affair.

“My grandmother, who is now 79, has been busy with her advocacy efforts for 20 years and does an amazing job organizing ‘John’s Team’ and getting an incredible outpouring of support from friends and family,” said Norris.

As for Norris’ late uncle and best friend, she said, “I know he’s laughing his big and hearty laugh with a smile that spreads ear to ear as he watches my friends and family fight in his memory.”

To contribute to Norris’ team effort, please visit the following web page: John's Team

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