What does the Race for Dignity mean for HIV+ teens in Malawi?
It means, quite simply, the chance for health and hope.
Earlier this month, more than 350 students from Toronto high schools participated in the 6th annual Race for Dignity at Branksome Hall. The high-energy spin-a-thon event raised more than $20,000 to support Dignitas International’s Teen Club program.
This year, students and teachers from Branksome Hall hosted the fundraiser for the first time with visiting students from Bishop Strachan School, Greenwood College, Royal St. George’s College, Vaughan Road Academy, Upper Canada College and St. Clement’s School.
On event day, the newly built Athletics and Wellness Centre at Branksome Hall was taken over by enthusiastic teens donning an array of vibrant and inspired costumes. Even the competing school mascots were in attendance to partake in this high-octane challenge. To raise funds, participants were challenged to spin on stationary bikes along with teammates and collect at least six pledges from friends and family. Raising just $60 helps to ensure that an HIV+ teen can participate in Teen Club for an entire year. To learn more about Dignitas’s Teen Club program, watch our YouTube video:
To help kick off the event, Dignitas International’s Anne Connelly, Director of Fundraising and Marketing, was in attendance along with Brave Nyirenda, Teen Club Coordinator, who travelled all the way from Malawi to speak with the students and encourage their efforts.
“This year’s Race for Dignity was a powerful example of teens in Canada showing solidarity with teens in Africa. Thanks to the efforts of these high school students, 330 HIV+ teens will be able to benefit from our Teen Club program,” said Anne.
Currently there are 1,300 HIV+ teens enrolled in Dignitas’s Teen Club program, which enables HIV+ teens to get medical check-ups and medications, benefit from peer-to-peer support, and learn about sexual and reproductive health and other life skills as they transition into adulthood. In 2015, Dignitas plans to start 10 new Teen Clubs in order to reach even more teens living with HIV in Malawi.
The Race for Dignity is a student-led grassroots campaign for Dignitas International. Since 2004, Dignitas Youth high school and university chapters across Canada have raised $500,000 in support of lifesaving treatment and care for people living with HIV in Africa.
For Brave, participating in this year’s Race for Dignity was an important experience – one that he will undoubtedly share with the teens in Malawi for years to come.
“On behalf of our teens in Malawi, we thank you for your efforts. Please keep doing what you are doing. Without you, our impact would not be possible, “ said Brave to the high school students at the event.
A big thank you to all of the students, teachers, parents and supporters who made the 2015 Race for Dignity a success. If you would like to donate to the Race for Dignity, you can do so by clicking the button below.