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One evening this past fall, 102 students from Toronto District Christian High School showed up to shine a light on AIDS.

The students from the Woodbridge, Ontario, school participated in a commercial produced by the Christian Reformed World Relief Committee (CRWRC), the Christian Reformed Church’s relief and development agency.

The commercial was designed to promote CRWRC’s iEmbraceAIDS website.

Earlier in the year, the school’s social justice class served as a focus group to help CRWRC learn how to market its Embrace AIDS campaign to youths.

Kristen VanderBerg, CRWRC’s communication and marketing director, said students were asked what they already knew about AIDS, what music they listened to, what ads caught their attention, and how best to communicate with them. 

CRWRC concluded that the Internet is the best way to engage youths, using something interactive and dynamic. The resulting iEmbraceAIDS website ( was launched Dec. 1.

Website users can view and post videos, create and send postcards, light up points on a world map, learn about upcoming events, and get ideas on how to embrace and help people who have AIDS.

The iEmbraceAIDS video has since found its way to other Internet locations such as Facebook, YouTube, and several websites and blogs.

VanderBerg said that CRWRC wanted to take its AIDS campaign to high school and college students because this demographic is good at mobilizing and can do a lot to involve peers in advocacy. “We’re trying to get people to shine whatever they have inside themselves to bring AIDS out of the darkness,” she said.

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