The following article (and video) was written (and produced) by Kate Hoad-Reddick, Off Campus Don at the University of Western Ontario and Art for AIDS International student intern!

Empowering. Inspiring. Fun. Eye-Opening.

These are just some of the words first year students used to describe their experiences following their Art for AIDS International workshop. On February 5, 2011, Art for AIDS International hosted first-year students from The University of Western Ontario at their head-office and Gallery. Students participated in a day-long art and awareness-raising workshop that allowed them to explore their experience with social justice issues and reflect on how HIV and AIDS are affecting people in their own community and abroad.

Usually, getting first year students out of bed on a Saturday morning in the middle of winter  is a challenge. However, this group of 15 students was talkative, excited, and ready to go as we approached the Art for AIDS International Gallery on Dundas Street. Some of the students had never been outside the Western gates since arriving on campus in September.  Once in the gallery, students were enthusiastically commenting on the pieces exhibited and asking questions about the themes they explored.

As a Don in one of Western’s residences, I was thrilled to see first year students so engaged in the workshop and passionate about the pieces that they were creating. Hendrikus Bervoets, Founder and Executive Director of the organization, has a way with young people. He makes workshops a safe space for students to explore their creativity and develop their self-confidence.

Art for AIDS International workshops leave a lasting impact on participants. Two weeks after the workshop, students are still excited to see their artwork exhibited at the follow-up event occurring in early April.


If you would like to bring a workshop to your school, community or place of work, please contact Art for AIDS International’s Executive Director, Hendrikus Bervoets at (519) 697-4606.