New Berwyn Group helps Community Face Challenge

Teens and young adults tackle one of the largest health concerns facing Berwyn and Cicero—HIV— with a new group—RAICES.

RAICES, meaning “roots” in Spanish is an acronym for Resources, Advocacy, Inclusion, Community, Education and Services. The group, in its early stages, was founded to bring HIV awareness to these two communities. The group also supports community members who identify with the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender (LGBT) community and provides public services for them.

“Cicero and Berwyn are hotspots for HIV incidents,” said Emmanuel Garcia, the group’s leader. Garcia is an employee for Project VIDA, a non-profit, that hosts Berwyn’s new RAICES group.

“RAICES specifically got a grant to work in Cicero and Berwyn because there is a number of cases of HIV positives that have come out of both of those cities,” he said.

The largest demographic group diagnosed with HIV in Cicero and Berwyn, are Hispanics males from the ages 14 between18 who have had same sex partners, according to Garcia.
RAICES and its “core members” have planned to work on a series of marketing campaigns that dispel myths and stereotypes about the LGBT community and bring aids awareness. They plan to market these campaigns through means such as social media outlets, public service announcements and educational posters.

Core members will release one piece of promotional marketing material each month. The first one comes in the form of a post card, which invites Cicero and Berwyn residents to event on Oct. 15. The event coincides with National Latinos AIDS Awareness Day.

“One way we’ll measure our achievement is by tracking how many residents attend this event and how many inquire we get about it,” Garcia said.

According to Garcia, these events, and support provided by RAICES all rely on a term he calls “community readiness.” It’s a term he uses to express how open the Cicero and Berwyn areas are for innovation. Garcia said that the community needs to accept these changing needs and issues in order to better assists their residents.

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