John Chittick ’63
Tuesday, June 12, 2002
FITCHBURG — He was jailed in Cuba and chased by police in China, but Tuesday morning he was honored by the Applewild School.
John B. Chittick of Fitchburg and Boston became the first recipient of the school’s Laverack Family Alumni Award established to recognize Applewild alumni “who, in the course of their work or volunteer efforts, contributed unselfishly to the common good and whose character, spirit and benevolent service provided respected leadership and support for the needs of the community.”
(right photo – John B. Chittick of Fitchburg is congratulated by Persis Laverack upon receiving the first Laverack Family Alumni Award during the Applewild School Recognition Program )
The Applewild Alumni Council, formed in 2000, selected Chittick for the award.
A recognized authority on the spread of the HIV-AIDS epidemic among teen-agers, Chittick founded and is executive director of TeenAIDS-PeerCorps Inc., a nonprofit organization based in Boston and dedicated to educating young people about the disease.
Since 1999 he has visited more than 15 countries on five continents, walking along rural roads and city streets, wherever teen-agers and young people gather, talking to them and spreading his message of HIV-AIDS awareness and prevention.
The Laverack Family Alumni Award was established by Applewild’s founding headmaster, William Laverack Sr., before his death April 17 at age 83 in Fort Myers, Fla. Laverack headed the school from 1957 until he retired in 1972.
In introducing Chittick to the audience, Todd Crocker, class of 1962 and alumni council chairman, said Chittick stands like a lighthouse “relentlessly shining light onto the facts of HIV and AIDS.”
Todd Crocker presented the award, a pewter plate, to Chittick, a member of the Applewild class of 1963, at the conclusion of the school’s annual student recognition ceremony in the Alumni Center for the Performing Arts.
Additional Information on Dr. John Chittick:
Dr. John Chittick (Harvard University, Following the presentation, the audience of Ed.D.) is now walking the streets and byways of the world to educate innocent teens about the medical facts of AIDS prevention.
An international expert, “Dr. John” accurately explains how experimentation and youthful risk-taking are spreading HIV in the USA and globally.
This man they call the “Johnny Appleseed” of AIDS prevention is donating five years of his life to this educational mission to train youth in America and in 50 countries (freely offered to every community). No government money or taxpayers funds are being used — only private donations.
A free color brochure is now available, telling the real-life stories of teen volunteers helping their best friends live healthy lives. It opens to be a 16″ X 18″ mini wall poster suitable for older kids and school classrooms. If you’d like one (at no cost), contact John with your address and he’ll send it out by regular mail.
Please also check out his newly revamped website: www.teenaids.org.
In a world that sometimes seems a crazy place, this story of young volunteers saving their peers from a deadly disease is truly inspiring.
Thank you for reading this. From, the many friends of “Dr. John.”
Dr. John Chittick
Executive Director, TeenAIDS-PeerCorps
P.O. Box 146727
Boston, MA 02114 USA
The plate was inscribed with the name of the award, Chittick’s name, the date, and the phrase: “Character, Spirit and Benevolent Service.” Following the presentation, the audience of students, alumni, current and past faculty members and administrators gave Chittick a standing ovation. Saying he felt both “humbled” and “honored” by the recognition, Chittick added, “I want to accept this award on behalf of all the young people around the world who have helped me.”
Present to see her son honored was Barbara B. Chittick, 87, of Fitchburg. “I think he has done a good job,” his mother said after the presentation.
Also present were Laverack’s widow, Persis Laverack, and his son, William Laverack Jr.
The award reflects his father, his son said. In typical fashion, he said, his father “deflected it from himself to the family by calling it the Laverack Family Alumni Award.” But the award, he said, “is about the values my father held most important: generosity, being generous with your time and your love and with your life.”
His father lived long enough to know who the first recipient of the award would be, his son said.
Recalling Laverack was a teacher and coach as well as a headmaster, Chittick said the headmaster insisted that every student be given a chance to play in a game. On one occasion he was sent in to play in a soccer match at a moment when the team had a chance to win.
Feeling a keen sense of responsibility for the outcome of the game, he told himself, “I’m going to show everybody what I can do. I kicked the ball and missed the goal,” Chittick said.
Chittick has a doctorate degree in human development and psychology from Harvard University in Cambridge. He told the audience that at the outset he produced mostly scholarly papers which he presented at conferences.
Then he learned that a young woman he knew was dying of AIDS. He visited her and she told him he talked to doctors and educators but he never talked to her about AIDS. If he had, she might not have contracted the disease.
That moment was the impetus for his decision to take his message directly to teen-agers and
“I had to get on the street. I had to do something,” said Chittick, who is called Dr. John by the young volunteers. He began his HIV-AIDS education walking tours in 1992 in Boston, California and the Dominican Republic, Chittick said after the ceremony. But he realized that with young people traveling as much as they do today, the epidemic was worldwide in scope.
Since 1999, he has taken his message to other countries. He always enlists the help of young volunteers and organizations in the countries he visits. His trips are paid for with money raised by TeenAIDS-PeerCorps. No taxpayer money is involved. However, with the current economic decline, contributions to the organization have decreased, he said.
He brings a medical message, he said, avoids politics. That is why governments allow him to walk about freely. He just completed a walking tour of Toronto and Miami, which has seen the highest rise ofHIV-AIDS in the country, he said. His next stop will be the International AIDS Conference in Barcelona, Spain, in July, where he will present two papers about the HIV-AIDS epidemic among teen-agers. He will also make a major speech to young people from Spain and around the world July 9 in the Barcelona city hall. “Afterward,” Chittick said, “I have an invitation to walk in parts of Spain — Cataloniaand the Basque area.” From there, he said, he will be walking in Portugal, Morocco, Algeria, Albania and Georgia.