A new approach to raising awareness

Special to the Daily News

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October was breast cancer awareness month and two teachers at Yellow Creek School Center took on a whole new approach to raising awareness within their school community.

Amanda Slusher and Elaine Johnson (who are actually sisters) had the idea that instead of doing a one-day breast cancer awareness program they would keep the spotlight on the awareness by dedicating a whole month to the cause. During the month, they encouraged student involvement in several ways.

First, Yellow Creek declared every Friday a PINK-OUT for the month of October. This meant that all students and staff could wear as much pink as possible on Fridays to show a sea of pink and support.

Second, they wanted to recognize all the family members of the students and staff that have suffered from the disease. They created a family tribute wall, in which pink ribbons were hung that listed those family members names and identified them as a survivor, fighter, or honoree, depending on if they had beat it, were fighting it or had lost the battle.

Third, they wanted all students involved in some activity so they created contests for different grade levels.

Students in preschool through second grades were asked to decorate a breast cancer ribbon.

The students in third- through fifth-grades were asked to create a poster representing breast cancer in whatever way they felt appropriate and write a 5 sentence description explaining the meaning of their poster.

Students in sixth- through eighth-grades were asked to write either a personal essay on how breast cancer has impacted their family or an informational essay about breast cancer.

There was a first place $20 winner, second place $15 winner and third place $10 winner for all categories (Patricia West the Family Resource Coordinator was involved with purchasing the prizes, poster boards, ribbon paper, hanging putty, markers etc. to go toward all the events that took place.)

Fourth, an entire hallway was decorated with the student contests work, the tribute wall, breast cancer facts, and encouraging words.

In addition, several days during the afternoon announcements, student volunteers went to the office and announced two breast cancer facts over the intercom for the entire school to hear.

Lastly, their sister, Karen Collett, judged the contests. Karen is 36-years-old and was diagnosed with Triple Negative Invasive Ductile Carcinoma in February of this year. She had a double mastectomy, underwent aggressive chemotherapy, and is currently doing intense radiation. She is still continuing her fight.

When Slusher and Johnson were asked why they wanted to be so involved, they had a very quick answer “of course it is all because of our sister Karen and it is in our family history since our papaw and great-aunt also had it. When it impacts you as closely as this, you can’t help but feel almost a sense of desperation in wanting to raise awareness and prepare others. “It’s as if you begin to put others first, even strangers. You don’t want anyone to go through this, especially when there are things you can do, such as regular exams to increase early detection.”

“The whole point for us was to get these students talking about their breast cancer ribbons, posters, and essays to their parents or guardians, female and male, to get them asking themselves ‘Should I be checked? What can I do to make sure I stay healthy?’ So, we hope that through all of this, we have raised a little more awareness this year within our school for our students, their families and our staff.”

Winners of all contests include:

Preschool through second grades: First place, Jesse Gambrel; second place, Cadence Shackleford; and third place, Holland Russell.

Third- through fifth-grades: First place, Paige Gray; second place, Hannah Bowen; and third place, Nick Cox.

Sixth- through eighth-grades: First place, Abby Idol; second place, Ethan Warren; and third place, Ethan Warren.


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