Students Take On Fight Against HIV/AIDS

Elizabeth Glaser standing in front of a photo of her daughter, Ariel. Nance Speth and her students have been inspired by Elizabeth’s legacy and are working to support EGPAF.


William Alexander Middle School 51 is a public school located in Brooklyn, New York, serving 1,074 enrolled students in grades 6-8. Nance Speth has served at William Alexander for the past 18 years, the last six as assistant  principal. William Alexander has partnered with EGPAF since 2007.

Pediatric AIDS is a hard topic for anyone to tackle, let alone young students. But here at William Alexander Middle School, we do exactly that: we tackle, we educate, we spread awareness, and we fundraise for the elimination of pediatric AIDS in our lifetime.

With the development of the “Problem Solvers Club” in the early 2000s, students researched and learned about various issues plaguing our world and what could be done to help. In the club, our students stumbled upon the devastation of the AIDS epidemic, specifically pediatric AIDS. They wanted to know what could be done to help HIV-positive children receive the treatment necessary to live past their second  birthdays and attend middle school, like our very own students were doing.

One of the students viewed a program that brought the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation (EGPAF) to our attention for the first time. She saw footage of Elizabeth Glaser and her family, heard about their story and EGPAF’s mission, and knew we were a school who would want to work with this foundation from that point forward. After being involved in a pediatric AIDS network locally, I knew that William Alexander students wanted to take their fundraisers and awareness events to the next level: helping internationally. And with EGPAF, we were able to do exactly that.

For us, our focus is on education and awareness in addition to fundraising for the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation. Some of our efforts include an Annual Red Ribbon week, as well as a unique eighth grade AIDS research project: having our older students learn about the disease, create posters for the school, and share facts with our student population. This has expanded our students’ learning and connected what they do in the classroom to the world outside our front door. As for fundraising, our students are always excited to partake in our annual faculty vs. student scooter ball or basketball tournaments. What student can resist competing against his or her teacher (and possibly winning) without getting in trouble?

Every year since the airing of that television program, William Alexander Middle School has educated itself and the surrounding Brooklyn neighborhood about pediatric AIDS and what can be done to continue the fight for an AIDS-free generation. And with the support and help from the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation, our students are able to share their impact with others, knowing that their donations are helping mothers, babies, and their families around the world receive life-saving programs. We are excited to continue supporting EGPAF and help to celebrate EGPAF’s 25th anniversary: 25 years of living out Elizabeth’s fighting spirit and helping those who need it most.

Thank you.