On November 15 and 16, 2016, SHAREing & CAREing conducted Be a Friend to Your Mother outreach programs at Maspeth High School. We led ten presentations over the course of two days, and had a total attendance of 889 students and staff.
The programs were presented by S&C Program Manager Merryl Reichbach, LCSW, ACE; Linda Bulone, RN, Research Nurse Manager at Queens Hospital Cancer Center and Dr. Jody Goldberg, Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, Queens Hospital Center.
Our learning objectives included ensuring students were educated about basic cancer facts as well as the importance of knowing their own bodies and maintaining good health. We also structured the program to help them gain a sense of self-efficacy so they could develop confidence communicating this information with adults in their lives. Each presentation offered the following curriculum: cancer statistics, diagnosis, staging and treatment; the importance of knowing our bodies and what is “normal” for us; understanding cancer risks and identifying lifelong behaviors proven to reduce 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.
Students were attentive and engaged. Several reflected on personal experiences with cancer and their sense of urgency about this health issue. Students also made use of our program as an opportunity to consult with the health care professional presenters. They asked presenters questions—and received answers—that gave some clarity about what is normal for their health and their bodies.
Students received a bilingual S&C brochure as well as a handout that was developed especially for this program. Asking adolescents to initiate conversations with their families about cancer and free and low cost screening can be unfamiliar and challenging. The handout was designed to help students start and sustain this conversation and encouraged them to contact S&C so we can link family members to essential free and low-cost health care and screening services.