After leaving a corporate marketing job in March 2008, Ford was inspired by the writing of her then 16-year old god-daughter, Chantel Reid, whose sex- and HIV/AIDS-focused blog entry, “Coming Out” (http://www.teendiariesonline.com/blog/?p=452), encouraged her to step out of the comfort zone and do something. “After doing some research on the statistics of HIV/AIDS and sexual behaviors among young people, I had to get involved,” said Ford. “Having spent more than 16 years marketing to the youth consumer at both VIBE Magazine and a leading experiential marketing agency, I just felt it was my turn to give back,” she concluded.
“I am truly honored to be able to lend my voice to helping to spread the message of safe sex”, says Dawn Richard. The statistics are startling from various health organizations. According to the most recent Center for Disease Control (CDC) report, released in 2009, as of 2007 African Americans accounted for the majority of the estimated number of AIDS diagnoses made during 2007. As of 2006, the American Social Health Association (ASHA) reported that one in two sexually active persons will contract an STD/STI by the age of 25, and one in four teens will contract an STD/STI. In fact, the CDC’s Youth Risk Behavioral Survey 1991-2007 states that 47% of high school students have had sexual intercourse and among Hispanic and African American (“Black”) youth those statistics are even higher at 52% and 66.5% respectively. As of the 2005 report, of those surveyed, 6.2% have had their first sexual intercourse experience before age 13, and while 89.5% have been taught about AIDS and HIV infection in school, only 61.5% are using condoms.
As a producer, writer and marketing veteran, Ford put her skill set to use and tapped entertainment industry friends, media mogul De’Von Christopher (President & CEO of Bleu Life Media and publisher of Bleu Magazine) and emerging screenwriter Richard “Rick” Cummings, to co-produced and co-wrote respectively, to work with her on the project. “It’s really important for youth to continue to have a voice about something as critical as HIV/AIDS – especially within their communities,” said Christopher. “As a generous contributor to a number of philanthropic organizations, I felt that partnering with Kim Ford on this project was another way to give back to the next generation of leaders,” he concluded. Emerging director of photography Tolu Omisore, camera operator Anthony Harris, and editors Omar Williams (“Black Wheels”, “Rainbow On The Green”, “Weekend VIBE”) and Amanda White rounded out the core team.
GET DOWN is partnered with FACES NY, a New York-based non-profit (formerly the Minority Task Force on Aids) that is celebrating its 25th year in the fight against HIV/AIDS and providing care to the community. “It has been an honor to work on the GET DOWN campaign with such a dedicated person as Kim Ford”, says Violet Tabor, Executive Director of FACES NY. “FACES NY is committed to providing safer-sex education within a framework of addressing the health concerns that impact our urban youth of today.” FACES NY will serve as the “clearing house” in the New York City area to refer and provide answers about testing and counseling from teens, young adult and families in need. Outside of New York City, there will be a list of testing and counseling centers and help lines by state listed on the project’s MySpace page and blog where visitors can type in their zip code and find out the closest help centers in their area.
To kick off the 25th year partnership, a contingent from the GET DOWN project will walk with the FACES NY team in New York’s AIDS Walk on May 16, 2010. To find out more about how to support the FACESNY/GET DOWN team, check out GET DOWN blog, getdownpsa.blogspot.com, and Facebook page, facebook.com/getdownpsa.