Taipei (AsiaNews) - The government of Taiwan has awarded the Blessed Imelda's Catholic School the first prize for its innovative multimedia project on AIDS prevention. The government established the award after realising the level of ignorance among young Taiwanese about the disease.
Earlier generations learnt first-hand the shock of Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome when it first hit in the 1980s, experiencing the difficulty of finding treatments that could at least contain it.
By contrast, today's teenagers are for the most part oblivious to its danger. In recent years, the rate of HIV infection has in fact increased proportionately more among people 15-24 years of age.
According to official statistics, about 25,000 people have shown symptoms of the disease between 1984 and 2014. This included as many as 4,700 people between 15 and 24 years of age in the last seven years.
For this reason, the city of Taipei launched a competition among all schools, public and private, to induce students to take part in the event under teacher supervision.
The competition's aim was to create a multimedia platform that could explain the danger of AIDS to young people (創新 關懷 愛滋 防治 行動 方案 - 徵 選 活動 計劃).
Sadly, data show that each year many young lives are ruined because of negligence or simple ignorance about the mode of infection. Hence, the message must be clear and reach the largest cohort of students.
The competition saw the victory of a high school class from the Blessed Imelda's School (靜修 女中), the oldest Catholic school in Taiwan.
The students are under the care of Professor Sophia Wu (吳瑞玲 老師), who has won two national awards for teaching in recent years, beat the competition hands down.
Professor Wu comes from southern Taiwan, and is a graduate in Education in Religious Studies from Fujen University.
Not very tall ("I am standing, can you seem me?" she says regularly at the beginning of each meeting where she invited to talk about her excellent and innovative teaching methods), she is a super-expert in multimedia communication for teens.
"Clarity, synthesis, passion and precision," she said, "must be the hallmarks of all our projects. Kids need to immediately grasp the importance of the topic in order to be able to become passionate about it and share it."
The multimedia presentation - on the ease of HIV transmission and on AIDS prevention - that won the competition is actually meant to offer a more important content, which is a message marked by the human values that young students can share and turn 'viral 'in social media.
"Inquiring, sharing and helping each other without judging or leaving anyone in the streets: together we can do it," said two school pupils who participated in the project.
Professor Wu currently goes to the Sacred Heart Parish in Taipei. Until three years ago, she taught at another Catholic school, a technical school for students from economically disadvantaged backgrounds in Xinzhu.
"It was an important experience. Initially, the kids were ashamed of belonging to the school. Eventually, we worked on the premise that dignity did not require anyone's recognition, that it was something inside oneself and that no one ought to be ashamed of their background but instead be proud of human values (Christian value for Christian believers) on which to base one's life. "
Strong-willed, funny, undoubtedly one of the most resourceful Catholic figures in Taiwan, Ms Wu revealed the secret of her success. "Let the students run free! Let them loose to find new ways to communicate the values they believe in."
According to Professor Wu "where there is life and imagination one can only generate fresh sparkles that are contagious for all those who are touched by them, just as Jesus did with his contemporaries".