Minnehaha AIDS exhibit: A teacher’s call to action

One of the rooms in the 3,000-square-foot interactive exhibit.
Courtesy of World Vision
One of the rooms in the 3,000-square-foot interactive exhibit.

Steve Ramgren, a physical education teacher at Minnehaha Academy in Minneapolis, traveled to Zambia in the summer of 2008. He toured poverty stricken areas with high rates of HIV and AIDs. He was so moved by meeting children who were affected and orphaned by AIDS that he felt compelled to act, but wasn’t sure how.

When Ramgren saw an exhibit last fall at Colonial Church in Edina called “AIDS – Step Into Africa” by an organization called “World Vision,” he knew he wanted to try to bring the exhibit back to Minnesota this year and get his school involved. Here’s a video report on the exhibit:

World Vision is a Christian relief and development organization that works in impoverished areas worldwide, by “tackling the causes of poverty.”

The 3,000-square-foot interactive exhibit nearly fills the gym at Minnehaha Academy. Visitors enter a village and experience the life of one of four featured African children who are living with the reality of AIDS in their community. The exhibit has been experienced by hundreds of thousands of visitors in over 90 U.S. cities since 2007.

Many of the exhibit guides are Minnehaha Academy students. Ramgren hopes that these students and other visitors will be touched in some way and moved to take action. He would like to take a group of students to Africa one day and have them see the problem first hand. He hopes that as they head off to college, his students will think about pursuing careers that are “not just about making money,” but about doing things to help impoverished people in Africa or other places.

“AIDS – Step Into Africa” has been at Minnehaha Academy all week and will be open through Saturday at Minnehaha Academy’s south campus, 4200 West River Parkway in Minneapolis. The exhibit is free and open to the public from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.

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