T.E.E.N. AIDS (Teens Effectively Educating Now about AIDS) is a unique acting troupe of teenagers who perform at schools; community based organizations, clubs or wherever teens congregate. They perform in order to educate their peers about the dangers of HIV/AIDS.
The troupe was started in 1994 when the American Red Cross Street Performance Program was given a grant. The group is comprised of 15 performers (10 paid, five volunteers) all coming from the greater Buffalo school district. The program is funded by a grant from the New York State AIDS Institute. They perform on the average three or four times a month by request. Sometimes they have more performances per month and because schools request most of their performances there are very few performances during the summer.
The presentations relate to teens and their families, especially teenagers who are involved in relationships, those that may have an alternative life style or do not live in a traditional family, i.e. homeless or living with another person other than their parents. The goal of T.E.E.N. AIDS is to educate their peers through theatrical performances. They address HIV/AIDS its dangers and its co-factors. Which include low self-esteem, peer pressure and substance abuse. They also try to increase awareness about prevention and teach preventative habits.
The club was started due to an increase in HIV in rural Chautauqua County making people realize that HIV/AIDS is not just a problem in urban areas. T.E.E.N. AIDS believes that because there is no cure for AIDS, education is the best defense and they provide education in a non-threatening, fun way.