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June 21, 2024 28 mins
For the first time in five years, Philadelphia FIGHT is bringing its HIV Education Summit back to the Pennsylvania Convention Center, 1101 Arch St., on Thursday, June 27th from 8:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.  
 Keep Going, Keep Moving, A Cure is in Sight is the theme for the event Philadelphia FIGHT will spearhead in honor of AIDS Education Month. The annual summit raises awareness about the latest innovations and strategies to prevent and treat HIV, and the newest developments in the quest to find a cure. I speak to Dr. Tashina Reeder Director of the Community Health Training Alliance for  Philadelphia FIGHT.

Pennsylvania’s courts declared that our school funding system is unconstitutional because the quality of students’ education is determined by their zip code. This year lawmakers have a chance to end the underfunding via a proposed $1.8 billion increase for public schools and a long-term commitment to close the entire funding gap.  I’m joined by students who are part of Children First’s Justice in Education Program who are advocates for equitable education funding.  They are: Gwen Shapiro, Tyrese Gordon,  Agnes Kane, Hannah Levere, Jaelyn Walker, Dell Salm, Talia Flavin and Regina Yajah  
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Episode Transcript

Available transcripts are automatically generated. Complete accuracy is not guaranteed.
Good morning, and welcome to what'sgoing on a show about making a difference
in our lives and our communities.I'm Lorraine Battatmorrow. This is tyrese.
As we come here, you knowfrom different places in different experience that we
have that bring us all here togetherfor the same cause, and that's fear
funding the schools. Tyres was oneof a group of young people who are
part of Children Firsts Justice and Educationprogram, which offers a platform for students

to grow into passionate advocates for educationalequality first. I have been involved in
covering the AIDS and HIV crisis pandemicfor many decades, and the early part
of that period of time, Ireally didn't think that we would find a
cure within our lifetime. However,what I am now seeing something very hopeful,

and that hopefulness was sparked by PhiladelphiaFight because one of their annual conferences
there was someone who spoke who said, yes, it is possible that we
may in fact see a cure forAIDS in our lifetime, but in the
meantime, it is possible to treatHIV like a chronic disease. Because there
have been so many new developments thatpeople need to know about and also new

developments regarding prevention. Well, PhiladelphiaFight. For the first time in five
years, they're bringing back that wonderfulHIV education summit to the Pennsylvania Convention Center
on Thursday, June twenty seventh fromeight thirty am to three pm. The
theme is keep Going, keep moving. A cure is in sight and that

is so exciting. So I'm soglad to welcome to the studio doctor Tishina
Reader, director of the Community HealthTraining Alliance for Philadelphia Fight. Well,
great to see you again. It'sbeen a while and I'm so excited that
you guys are coming back to theConvention Center to talk about HIV. This
has always been a great source ofcutting edge information about HIV and AIDS.

First of all, let's talk aboutPhiladelphia Fight. Who are you, and
then let's talk about the conference.Thank you for having me today. So,
Philadelphia Fight has been around for sometime, for many, many many
years, and we're simply a comprehensivecare facility providing educational services, primary care,
research advocacy to people living with HIVand AIDS and those who are at

risk. And so we offer avariety of services from behavioral health services to
prep services, to HEPSI services,dental services, education. So we do
a lot of things for the communityas well as a professional seeking training and
so we are a very robust organizationoffering impactful services to treat and to educate.

Well, you know, the thingthat has been so remarkable about Philadelphia
Fight is your annual HIV education sumat which you had every year. You
went on a little bit of highASA hiatus because of COVID, but you
are back, and I think thething about the conference that I always look
forward to is that there was informationthere that I did not know about.
You always were the first to letthe world know. I think in a

way that really reaches a lot ofpeople what the latest is regarding HIV and
AIDS. So keep going, keepmoving. A cure is in sight.
It's the theme. What a greattheme. I love that. Why did
you decide on that as a theme, Because we don't want individuals or people
to forget that, Hey, HIVand AIDS is still here, but we're

working towards a cure. So we'regoing to keep going. We're going to
keep teaching me and keep educating,going to keep you know, providing services
to you know, lower the numberof transmissions, to help folks understand the
importance of knowing their numbers and seekingcare to treat and to learn how to
prevent through prep education and things likethat. And so this year's some is

huge for us because it's the firstsummit in person since twenty nineteen. You
know, COVID came and we hadto pivot to online platform, which was
a blessing because we were able togo global. We had people from the
Philippines, from Africa attending our summit. I'm like, wow, this is
amazing. And so that theme isspecific to say, hey, let's not

forget we still have work to do. So there are a number of different
workshops and one of the things thatI thought was kind of interesting is one
called Beat HIV and Crisper for Cure. How Philadelphia's moving towards a cure for
HIV. And as I implied atthe beginning, when I first started covering

eight HIV and AIDS in the eighties, the thought of a cure seemed just
impossible, you know, it justseemed like it's not going to happen in
our lifetime. And now there's newgenetic research moving towards a cure. Tell
us more about this workshop. Sothis workshop, it will be actually facilitated
by the Wistar Institute Philadelphia. Fightworks closely with them for many many years

and we were hand in hand onworking towards finding a cure, and so
part of this research will be spokento in great detail by the doctors who
are actually working on the research totalk about possibilities around possible a cure.
You're right, you know, fortyone years, almost forty two years now
that this has been it's great toknow that we're still looking for a cure.

Yeah. Well, speaking of cure, there certainly have been a lot
of developments in terms of treatment.It used to be and I'm sure you
are certainly probably experienced that, butif someone you knew became HIV positive,
their life expectancy was usually about twoyears if that. And now we are

moving into a time when, becauseof all of the new treatments that are
available, people are able to livelong and healthy lives. That means that
the idea idea of growing old withHIV is something people need to talk about,
right, And you do have aworkshop on that kind of redefining HIV

and aging. When HIV first hitthe scene, HIV and a's hit the
scene, there was really no treatment. We didn't know how to treat it,
so it was a cocktail of medicationswhere people were taking a lot of
medication. So now taking long actingtreatment where you get a treatment shot once
a month or every quarter, dependingon I believe it's once a month unquote
me on that, but I believeit's monthly. You get a shot and

you can treat the envirus without eventaking it. Is simplified the process.
Great HIV. Yeah, yes,it's a chronic illness that you can manage.
It's a longer a death sentence,which is important for people to know
that. Hey, yes, peoplewere afraid of it because we didn't know
how to treat it. But nowthere's so much treatment out here, education

out here specific to how to treatand live a full life, a full
healthy life with HIV. And thatbrings us to also prevention because because in
addition to these new treatments that havecreated more of a chronic illness treatment approach,
there's also prevention with PREP and othertypes of medications that between PREP and

between the HIV treatments, you canget you a viral lode down to zero,
which means that you're not going totransmit it to somebody, right.
Yes, that was another significant mousetonein the world of HIV and AD you
know, before it was the fearof transmitting. So the virus is so
with the medication, that's exactly whatit does. It decreases your viral to

a degree where it's undetectable. Doesit mean it's gone, It's just it's
almost as if the medication has frozen, so to speak, the virus in
a space where it's not replicating,right, and you cannot transmit the virus
to your partners, but you haveto stay on your medication. It's called
you equals you. You may haveheard of that terminology. You equals you.

Undetectable means equals untransmittable. And thatwas a significant mouthstone for many folks
living with the virus because they realize, wow, I can still live a
full healthy life in terms of sexuallyright and still talk to my partner about
other preventative treatment out there such asPREP and PEP, but also having a

comfort of knowing I can no longertransmit it as long as I stay on
my medication. So that was reallya big deal that the medication does that
and keeps you healthy, improve yourimmune system, and so people are living
lives. Yeah, living lives,get married, having relations, children,
having children. It's possible now thanksto all the new developments. So who

should come to this conference? Everyone? You know? I say that because
I think what happened even though we'reforty one years plus into HIV and AIDS,
there are still people out here whodon't understand it. They still think
you can catch AIDS. I stillhear it or I know what it looks
like, so the stigma is outthere. So I think coming to this

conference, whether you're you're doing thework in the field or you're a professional,
invite someone who you know may notbe aware, who may need education
around what we're doing in the worldof HIV and needs. I think education
is important. When you learn,you can then teach others. Oh no,
that's actually incorrect. So I thinkeveryone should attend. Doesn't matter if

you're working in the field or not. Everyone's invited as a free event.
We're going to be at the ConventionCenter next Thursday, the twenty seventh of
June. Registration will start between thehours of a thirty and nine, so
you can register on our website Fightdot org. Go ahead and register.
The summit begins at nine nine tillthree and so we want everybody to attend.

You're invited. It's a great summitand I've always really enjoyed going and
have been inspired by the many extraordinaryspeakers and workshops that you have to offer,
which is at the Philadelphia Fight twentytwenty four HIV Education Summit. Keep
going, keep moving, A cureis in sight. That is the theme.

Doctor Tashena Reader, director of theCommunity Health Training Alliance for Philadelphia Fight.
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Access to quality public education is afundamental right for students in Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania's
courts declared that our school funding systemis unconstitutional because the quality of students' education
is determined by their zip code.This year, lawmakers have a chance to
end the underfunding via proposed one pointeight billion dollar increase for public schools and

a long term commitment to close theentire funding gap. I'm joined by students
who are part of Children firsts Justicein Education program, which is offering a
platform for students to grow into vitalmembers of their statewide advisory efforts. They
are activists and I am so delightedto have them here today. And before

we get into what you are,let's just say who you are. So
we're going to go down the line. We'll start with Gwenn. My name
is Gwen Schapiro. I'm a risingsenior at Lower Marion High School in the
Lower Marian School District from Montgomery County. My name is Tarvis Gory. I'm
sixteen and I come from the PhiladelphiaCounty. My name is Agnes Kine.

I am sixteen. I am currentlya rising junior at Central Box High School
South as well as a student atMetal Box Institute of Technology. Hi.
My name is Hannah Levere. I'meighteen today. I graduated last Friday,
and I'm from Philadelphia County. HI. I'm Jalen Walker. I'm seventeen years

old and I attend the Gerard AcademicMusic Program and I live in Philadelphia County.
HI. My name is del Salmon. I'm twenty years old and I
go to CCP Community College of Philadelphia. Hi. My name's Talia Flavin.
I'm from Bucks County, PA andI'm nineteen. I'm currently a rising junior
at University of Delaware. HI.My name is Rej Nayaja and I'm originally

from West Africa, Siuelion and I'mrepresenting Philadelphia County. I'm eighteen years old
and I'll be attending dregslies for Lovely, Lovely, Lovely. Okay, so
let's begin by talking about what's thisorganization, Justice and education program is all
about. Who wants to tell usabout it? This is Talia. So

we are a group of motivated youthwho have seen the major issues with funding
and education, and we're here tohelp younger students learn how to advocate for
themselves and speak to representatives and maketheir voices heard. That's wonderful. What
is it about this particular issue thatexcites you to be involved and active?

This is Henna speaking. And whatexcites me about this issue is that I
really feel as though children deserve abetter quality education no matter what but their
skin cone is, no matter wherethey come from, what is the code
they come from? They just alldeserve quality education, no matter where they're
from. Okay, who else wantsto speak on this? This is Agnes.
What excites me about this issue isthat I, because of my gender

identity and sexual orientation, I amdiscriminated daily at my school and the teachers,
frankly, do not have the propertraining at administration. They don't have
the proper training to handle this,to handle students who come from different ethnicities,
different religions, and even current politicalconflicts. They don't know how to

handle that. Our teachers need trainingson how to handle situations relating to diverse
students. And with funding, wecan get teachers the proper training they need.
So there are students who are notleft out. This is Regina so
as a student insanationas students coming fromAfrica, Australian. When I first came

and the school I was putting wasbased on the zip code I lived in,
even though it wasn't a good school, and I ambitioned a more better
education and I wanted to go toanother school, but I said, because
I stay in this neighborhood, Ican't dream of a better place or like
a better education. I have togo to my community school based on my

progress. Like I've experienced different schooldistricts, like from New Jersey to Filadelphia,
team now which is present, Igot to see how the education system
as a whole is not like adecuatingthe American students but also international migrating students
from different countries. They are notable to like be able to have the

education they dreamed of coming to America, we are not like maybe the funding
is in the school, so uscoming from different countries, the language barrier,
which is really a hard issue,and there is no funding for teachers
to take extra time to provide studentsto what they need, but also the

disregard of our education back home.We come here and like we are maybe
put back. We were maybe excellentstudents, but education from Africa is considered
invalued and we are set back withother students which we are higher than we
are, like maybe put in afifth grade level when we're like so in
other words, that you need tohave more culturally competent and sensitive training for

teachers so that they can accommodate studentsfrom other countries. Yes, this is
Talia. So when we all firstmet on Zoom, we had a moment
where we all just shared our experiencesand I am coming from New Hope Stilbury
School District was like bug guide listeningto some of the students from Philadelphia County
share their experiences. I mean,I was like, oh, we had

sushi Friday and we had a studentteacher ratio of like twelve to one or
something. And then the other studentswere saying that they there was water dripping
down into a bucket and they didn'thave air conditioning, and it was like
such a powerful, full moment wherewe really realized how much of a disparity
there is. Yeah, that's reallyvivid. Thank you so much. Yes,

this is Tyrese speaking on that inPhiladelphia as a real crisis because like
it's a lot of violence that impactknow, the school systems and stuff like
that, And like with water drippingdown, if you go to a private
school or like a religion school,you can't pay for the tuition. And
when you can't pay for the tuition, you have to do financial aid.

And when we do financial aid,you can't pay for lunches, you can't
pay for uniforms. It's different.It's different from like Bucks County Taliers from
you know, yeah, and youhave to saying that, Okay, this
is what we can do to fightthat by having funding, you know,
to fund the arts program, athleticprogram and different things in the school to

help it better. Yeah. Ilove that. This is Jalen And for
me, coming from a private schoolto a public school was kind of hard
and I feel as if though thereweren't enough resources to help me balance,
Like the new world from having everythinghanded to me in a way to having
to solve everything for myself and havingto basically become an adult within my freshman

year. So that was really hard. And I feel like there should be
more support for people who go toa private or Catholic school where everything is
basically set out for them and transformingto a public school where kind of on
your own a lot more. Yeah, well we'll take one more person.
Then I have another question. Goahead. This is Dell, and I

just want to pinpoint on like somethings in my school too. I went
to public schools, and there's beenlike some things like probably like having proper
air conditioning or heating. I knowpersonally for my elementary and middle school.
They was one time when I wasin third grade, they were protesting to
have saying save our school so iflike the school was in danger of not

being stayed up and everything. Butthere was also like a moment too,
like when I was in fourth gradethey didn't have enough teachers or staffs just
having enough because there was a momentfor my fourth grade year, we had
to get split up and our thirdgrade teacher had to teach both fourth and
third grade until they had to themiddle of the year or like close to

later fall, we had another teacherto right, so there was a shortage
of teachers. So that probably meantyou had a pretty big class. Yeah
yeah, wow, all right,let's talk about what you would like to
see. What is your message tothe state legislators. This is Hannah speaking,
and what I would like to seeis definitely obviously more funding within the
school districts, but not only morefunding, more teacher education. More education

so that teachers can really connect withtheir students both physically and mentally emotionally,
because teachers, they are also ina tough place, not only as being
teachers or educators. There is notenough education going on within the teacher community.
So teacher training, yes, yeah, they keep up. Yes,
who's next? This is Regina.So following up with Anna, like,

more funding is needed. So withthe more funding, we can provide adequate
but like nutritious food because even thoughthe School of Philadelphia tries to be more
diverse with food, less funding makesit like a punishment to go to school.
Every day you go to school,they have a restriction. Okay,
if it's past six am or likeseven am at my school, you can

get breakfast, so you basically haveto go through classes hungry. You can
like eat in class. Some teachershave restrictions of not eating in class.
So how are you supposed to learnif you don't have food or you don't
have what you need to learn?But also the food quality sometimes it's really
like poizing food. All right,who's next? Yeah, I'm agnes,

I'm from Bucks. And one experienceI had is that I was actually meeting
with one of our local lawmakers andI was telling him a story about how
my second block teacher who taught memath, I asked for her to borrow
a pencil and she was like,I'm sorry, I do not have a

pencil because I did not go outand buy pencils for our classroom. And
in my opinion, that should besupplied. Teachers should not be buying stuff
for their classroom, which is verycommon for teachers to pull out of their
own pockets. Yeah, the averageteacher spends over five hundred dollars out of
their own pocket on classroom supplies.And this lawmaker told me I've never heard

of that, which is crazy inmy opinion. And really, these lawmote
makers just need to open up theireyes and see the current issues that are
being faced in our community. Allright, so call to action. What
is your call to action for theselegislators. What do you want to see

happen? And what do you wantus to do as citizens who care?
This is Talia. We're calling forfair funding. Well, Gwen is kind
of our expert on the technical aspectsof funding. All of these issues are
solved by money, and that's whatwe're asking for. There should not be
one person in this room who's hada wonderful experience and then the rest have

had not any of the funding orthe support that they needed. This is
Tyre's basically. What the citizens shoulddo is think about a different perspective that
we all have because they're not fromthe same place, from different counties and
different zip calls and different nationalities.As we come here, you know from
different places in different that we havethat bring us all here together and for

the same cause. And that's fairfunding. In schools, it's for the
future generation because you've probably be outof school by now. But when you
know our kids, our grandkids,it's such for coming down the line they
say, oh they can come backand look that people the same age as
them, They look like them forit for the same thing that they want,
and that's funday for school. That'sso inspiring. I just love that.

Yeah, this is Jalen And afew things I would say you can
do is call, text, email, go visit your state senators because that's
really where we need the action tohappen in this moment. But whatever you
do, like, we really needsenators to pass this bill for fair funding
in our school district so that everybodycan have a fair opportunity. Okay,

who gets the final word? Thisis Gwen Jalen reference to bill. I
just wanted to say. The billthat she's talking about is HB twenty three
seventy. It's in the Senate rightnow. It just got passed by the
House, and it is a billthat would say that the legislature needs to
pass a budget and the next sevenyears of budget in order to fund education

in accordance with the way that theBasic Education Funding Commission recommended. Just for
context, if people would like moreinformation about children first and the Justice and
Education program, how do they findout more? How do they find out
more about you guys? How tomore young people equally as impassioned and as

inspiring as you guys. How canthey join you in what you're doing?
So on the Children's First website,there's a bunch of contact information are amazing
leader, Miss Diana Coleman is agreat point of contact. But there's emails
Children's First Justice and Education and you'llget all the info there. Fantastic And

you all had this cheer that youall did together. What was that?
Go ahead on three We're gonna sayJustice and Education on three one two three
Fundard School. Yes, I loveit, I love it, I love
it. These are young people whoare part of Children firsts Justice and Education

program, which offers a platform forstudents to grow into vital active members of
their statewide advisory efforts. They aremaking a difference, they are making asking
for change, and they are informingour legislators exactly what it means to have
equal funding for all students. GwenShapiro, Tyree Gordon, Agnes Kine,

Hannah Leavie, Jalen Walker, DelSom, Talia Flavin and Regina Yaja.
Thank you all, thank you,thank you, thank you, good night,
thank you. You can listen toall of today's interviews by going to
our station, website and typing inkeyword community. You can also listen on

the iHeartRadio app It's Philadelphia Community Podcast. Follow me on Twitter and Instagram at
Lorraine Ballard. I'm Lorraine Ballard MORELand I stand for service to our community
and media that empowers. What willyou stand for? You've been listening to
what's going on, and thank you
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