Pictured is the book jacket from We Declare!—Freedom from HIV/AID, created the young men in the 2009/2010 Boys II Men Ambassadors program.
Here is the Preface from the We Declare! Freedom from HIV/AIDS book:
This book, We Declare!—Freedom from HIV/AIDS, is the work of boys, ages 11 to 15, who participated in an HIV/AIDS prevention program funded by the Illinois Department of Health.
When children are engaged in the types of learning experiences that produce a book that makes individuals think about how they live, that’s an excellent return on our investment. When children are enrolled in programs that give serious thought to how they can best serve their participants, that is also an excellent return on our investment. And when they attend schools that think long and hard about the best way to educate, that, too, is an excellent return on our investment. The young men who created this book were involved in all three of these examples of excellent investment.
The youth who wrote We Declare!—Freedom from HIV/AIDS are now Ambassadors for the Prevention of HIV/AIDS. As their writing shows, they take their Ambassador duties seriously.
We Declare is worth reading. The youth call on their peers, parents and other adults to live responsibly. They express their concerns and show their compassion. They demonstrate an understanding of how HIV/AIDS’ threatens communities now and will be a continued threat to their future if we are not willing to become each other “keeper.” They point out the consequences of irresponsible behavior and challenge each of us to step up and speak out.
As I read their Declarations of Independence, I was reminded of the importance of the efforts that are made at the Department of Health to ensure that people in the State of Illinois have the information and resources they need in order to know that living HIV/AIDS free is not just a dream. These declarations also affirmed my faith in the ability and willingness of Illinoisans to make their own declarations and to actively participate in making our state as free of HIV/AIDS as is humanly possible.
There is a saying; “Out of the Mouths of Babes” that expresses how much I value the words written by each of the youth who contributed to We Declare!. And, I declare to them and to each of you that the Department of Health will continue its efforts to engage, educate and advocate for the prevention of HIV/AIDS.
President, Institute for Positive Living