VERY few schools took the AIDS crisis as seriously as St Clare's Girls' School did on World AIDS Day this month. Nearly the whole school rallied together to spell out one phrase any ostracised AIDS victims would love to hear - 'Do not fear, we support you!' The pupils packed the basketball court during lunchtime to deck a notice board with little ribbons they had made - an established symbol of love and concern for HIV patients. In less than an hour, the board was overloaded with ribbons of dashing colours: red, blue, yellow, orange, pink, green, you name it. But the activity that generated the greatest support took place at the centre of the court - where a giant mural was created. Eager hands grabbed sponges, brushes and crayons and dabbled paint onto the canvas which was spread out on the ground. When they finally stopped and the mural was erected, a giant message was in place. It read: 'Living with HIV/AIDS. Shared rights, shared responsibilities.' A round of joyful applause broke out. 'Art is a very expressive medium and I wanted the students to express their feelings through it,' said English teacher Leung Pik-ki, who leads the school's AIDS education programme. The event was preceded by an exhibition last month staged by senior students to educate their schoolmates on the subject. 'Such an activity is actually an empowerment. It's shared work. The students must believe in it to participate,' Ms Leung said. There was also a 'Care Cards' corner at the basketball stand next to the mural where students hung messages they had written to AIDS sufferers. One went, 'When you feel depressed, remember there are many hands here holding you up.' Another said: 'We'll pray for you.' A lovely note had a cuddly bear holding up banners with 'love' and 'concern' written on them. 'It's our gesture of sending a message of hope and blessing to HIV carriers,' said seventh-former Amy Ng Ka-wai, one of three student organisers involved in the programme since the summer. 'Before this, I didn't even know the difference between HIV and AIDS. Students wouldn't talk about AIDS among themselves. I hope this project will help change the negative attitudes towards the victims,' Amy told Young Post. Amy said reading newsletters from AIDS concern groups had opened her heart to those who are suffering from the disease. 'They are actually very brave. Some have overcome obstacles and refuse to let the disease affect their lives.' The turnout for the event was a delightful surprise for Ms Leung. 'I didn't really know what to expect. We're not used to having activities of such spontaneity. We used to have only basketball matches here!' St Clare's is one of three Chinese schools participating in the pilot HIV School Awareness Programme organised by the volunteer agency Teen AIDS. The organisation sends information and videotapes to the schools and organises workshops for the teachers.