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High School Outreach Program at W.C. Bryant High School for Cancer Awareness Week

On April 3-7, 2017 SHAREing & CAREing conducted Be a Friend to Your Mother outreach programs at W.C Bryant High School as part of our second annual Cancer Awareness Week partnership. The program was presented in 16 classes. In total, 374 students and 10 faculty and staff attended the program. Cancer Awareness Week was initiated in 2016. Because it was such a huge success, we all decided to collaborate again this year.

Each program included an RN, LCSW and at least one trained cancer survivor. Anna Kril, Founder and Executive Director of SHAREing & CAREing, shared her cancer survival story which inspired her to co-found SHAREing & CAREing 23 years ago. S&C Vice President Eartha Washington provided additional information about our organization and emphasized the importance of taking charge of one’s personal health history to minimize risks. 34-year cancer survivor and bilingual volunteer Mercedes Pinzino shared her incredible survivorship story. Fran Smith, RN shared her mother’s story as a cautionary tale and taught students how to perform testicular breast self-exams. She answered students’ medical related questions. Program Manager Merryl Reichbach, LCSW, ACE led discussion on cancer and treatment. She helped students identify and address psychosocial barriers to initiating conversations with family members about obtaining health care. She also led discussion on health and wellness strategies for reducing lifelong cancer risk.

A large proportion of Bryant students are from immigrant families. They seemed to particularly appreciate our pedagogical approach: tying together personal family stories with concrete health information. Our education program and agency are a living model of what activism, motivated by personal tragedy, can inspire. Our appeal to students that they be activists in their own lives hit home. Students could understand that becoming aware of what is normal for their bodies, communicating crucial health information to their families, and linking family members to health services including cancer screenings, was vitally important. Taking actions like this could help them move themselves out of a situation of being ignored and underserved into the more powerful, active stance of truly protecting their lives and the lives of their families.

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