Realising the Power of Events
It’s Time to ACT was a perfect demonstration of the power of solidarity – exemplifying how Government, NGO, business and societal leaders can effectively collaborate to influence change – Parmeshwar Godrej, Chair, Heroes Project
Heroes Project knows that social change requires more than high-profile events. However, they do play an important role in recruiting societal leaders, generating awareness, raising funds, dispelling misconceptions, sensitising communities, and forging enduring partnerships.
It’s Time to ACT was such an event. India’s Civil Aviation Minister, the Health Minister, the Director General of the National AIDS Control Organization (NACO), and the Chairperson of Heroes Project stood unified as ambassadors. Millions were exposed to positive HIV messaging from a range of societal leaders.
People living with HIV face not only health challenges, but often the social stigma and discrimination that accompany it. As Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh said, “We’ve got to put an end to the three ‘Ss’ associated with HIV – silence, stigma and shame. The social vaccine of ‘Education and Awareness’ is the only effective method of preventing the spread of HIV.”
High-powered, large-scale events that involve key communities, particularly celebrities, attract significant media attention. Supported by clear and unified key messages and social media tools, they play an important role in generating public awareness that helps lead to action.
Heroes Project has staged successful events in collaboration with various NGOs, government agencies and societal leaders to build awareness of vital social and health issues, dispel myths and misconceptions, sensitise communities, raise funds and forge enduring partnerships. Four such events include A Time For Heroes in Hyderabad (‘05), It’s Time to ACT (‘07) in Mumbai, Cricket for All (‘07) in Hyderabad and the Candlelight Memorial (‘09) in Mumbai.
For It’s Time to ACT, Heroes Project worked in collaboration with the Honourable Aviation Minister, Praful Patel, who opened the event with the unveiling of a symbolic aeroplane painted in bold red and adorned with the image of a red ribbon – the universal symbol of solidarity with HIV-positive people. Models wearing dresses made of condoms performed a routine entitled Dress Up Against AIDS. The intent was to demystify the taboo surrounding condoms and underscore their important role in HIV.
Many celebrities supported the occasion. As a highlight, Minister Patel, the Health Minister Anbumani Ramadoss, the Director General of the National AIDS Control Organization (NACO) K. Sujatha Rao, and the Chairperson of Heroes Project Parmeshwar Godrej, took children affected by HIV for a flight in the red aircraft.
As with Heroes Project’s other events, It’s Time to ACT made a significant impact. Media coverage of the event and its subject matter was significant. Many national networks featured it in live broadcasts, reaching millions. As well, on the day of the event, every Indian Airlines flight across India distributed an interactive and educational info-booklet about HIV to passengers.