Some schoolchildren think "AIDS are stupid," while others see AIDS as a job for the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
Students from Baltimore area schools used crayons, markers and colored pencils to express their feelings about AIDS on footprint-shapes that will guide and inspire an expected 10,000 walkers in AIDSWALK '92.
On Sunday, participants in central Maryland's fifth annual event, which benefits AIDS service organizations, will follow the footprints for 3.5 miles from Johns Hopkins University through Guilford and Sherwood Gardens.
As part of Project Footwork, Patti Campbell, chairwoman of visual arts for AIDSWALK '92, asked teachers to have students draw their visualizations of the disease. Students decorated photocopies of footprints -- the logo for the event -- which will be used as markers along the route of the walk.
According to Ms. Campbell, a graphics designer at Monarch Services in Baltimore, the artwork is both humorous and moving.
"They know that people are sick and they want to help them," she said.
But she added that many elementary students seemed to have limited knowledge about AIDS.
"A lot of [the decorated footprints] are political," Ms. Campbell said, noting peace signs can be found in many of the designs.
Others sent simpler messages, such as "Good luck getting rid of AIDS."
Farrell Maddox, an art teacher at Patapsco High School, had three classes decorate footprints because he is concerned "about AIDS and about people being aware of the disease."
Students are increasingly aware of AIDS, said Mr. Maddox, but "I'm still concerned . . . there is a feeling of immortality in the age group."
Patapsco senior Heather Robey, one of Mr. Maddox's students, decorated two footprints.
By drawing different faces and writing statements such as "Save our generation" and "AIDS can affect everybody," Heather tried to convey that AIDS "is an epidemic and has to stop with our generation," she said.
Another senior at Patapsco, Michael Clark, offered a drawing with the theme "AIDS is a world problem."
"I'm concerned because it's a rising epidemic and it's not taken seriously enough," Michael said. "There are a lot of misconceptions [about AIDS], one being that it's confined to one group of people."
Half the proceeds, which organizers hope will reach $500,000, will benefit HERO (Health Education Resource Organization). The rest will go to other Central Maryland agencies.