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Middle & High School Cancer Education Programs at World Journalism Preparatory H.S.

On April 26, 2017, SHAREing & CAREing conducted three Be A Friend to Your Mother cancer education outreach programs at World Journalism Preparatory High School and two outreach programs to students in their middle school. A total of 334 students and 6 staff attended our program.

The programs were presented by SHAREing & CAREing Program Manager Merryl Reichbach, LCSW, ACE and Fran Smith, RN, who has specialized in Women’s Health for 37 years at Elmhurst Hospital.

Our high school curriculum included ensuring students were educated about basic cancer facts as well as the importance of knowing their own bodies and feeling a sense of personal responsibility for maintaining good health. Each presentation offered the following information: cancer statistics, diagnosis, staging and treatment; the importance of knowing what is normal for our bodies, performing testicular and breast self-exams, understanding cancer risks within our control as well as risk factors beyond our control; identifying personal behaviors proven to reduce some risk; the impact of early detection and regular screenings on treatment and survival outcomes; communicating crucial health information to family members and helping them access health care and screening services.

Middle school curriculum focused on answering students direct questions about cancer as well as helping them identify and implement personal behaviors to sustain good health, including eating healthy foods, regular physical activity every day, and reporting any changes or problems in their lives—physical, emotional or social—to a trusted adult. Offering this program to middle schoolers was a new experience for us. Their response was so receptive we hope to extend this to other middle schools in the future.

The WJP assistant principal, Daniel Petrotta, attended many of the programs and provided support and feedback throughout the day. He was extremely positive about the presenters and the material and how both were appropriate and accessible for the students. High school and middle school students alike were attentive and engaged. Several reflected on personal experiences with cancer and their sense of urgency about this health issue. Many came up to the presenters after the program to thank them and ask for information to sustain their connection with SHAREing & CAREing.

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