Greens Farms Academy is a PreK-12, coed school in Westport, CT

Breast Cancer Awareness Month in the Middle School

Breast Cancer Awareness Month in the Middle School

As the month of October came to a close, the Middle Schoolers took time learning, having discussions, and raising funds for breast cancer awareness. One of these moments was during the last week of October, during the Middle School Pink Out.

Through the Pink Out event, funds were raised which were then matched by funds raised through the 7th and 8th grade Halloween Dance. The Middle School student body raised a total of $642 to raise awareness and fight breast cancer. 

During the last week of October the Middle Schoolers got together in the forum, dressed in all pink. The Pink Out was meant as a day to raise awareness and start conversations. The students were brought together on that day so that they could understand more about the illness itself and the important steps to take in order for early detection and preventative action. Topics like these are important to introduce at a young age so that students can have a better grasp on what they need to know about their own bodies and how they can best take care of themselves. 

At the end of the conversation, when it was time for audience questions, one young middle school student asked, “what is a mammogram?” They realized that they were missing what appeared to be an important vocabulary word pertaining to the topic at hand. It is due to the safe and comfortable environment that exists within the school and amongst the students that they felt comfortable acknowledging that they didn’t understand something, and chose to ask a question about a topic that can be uncomfortable for anyone, but especially young students. One of the reasons GFA facilitates such conversations, relating to topics like this and beyond, is to help students to wonder, to be curious, to ask questions, and to think critically. 

During the Pink Out, GFA hosted a speaker from the Norma Pfriem Center. This is a local non-profit that was able to help bring awareness to the students. The speaker presented the students with facts, statistics, and stories about breast cancer. Additionally, GFA’s Carolyn Skiba also spoke during the Pink Out about her own experience, years ago, with the fight against breast cancer. As Carolyn spoke to the students, she shared her experience with the illness, how she dealt with it, and the lessons that came from it. As she expressed, one of her ways to look at the treatment and fight against the illness was to look at it like a triathlon, with each step of the journey representing a different leg of the race. 

People who have had cancer are often looked at and called “survivors”, but Carolyn expressed that this term never suited her. Being someone who tries to always look at the positive and keep an eye on the light ahead, “survivor” was too passive of a term for Carolyn. It was a GFA parent who had said to her, “you are going to war” that helped her come to terms with the decision that she is not a survivor, rather a warrior who was fighting a battle. Carolyn expressed how anyone who goes through something like this has to fight, they have to dig deep for themselves and their families. 

Learning about illnesses can feel scary, which is why it is important to lead with the facts. Giving students facts can give calmness. It opens up a space in which they feel they can ask questions. Teaching about illness also helps to build a sense of empathy within the students. In life, it’s easy to make quick judgements or assumptions towards what is new and unknown. The more we know and try to understand the more we are able to empathize and be better people. In this way, we are able to always remember that everyone is fighting their own battles. 

Carolyn shared the importance of talking with these young students about difficult topics. Breast Cancer Awareness Month provided one of those opportunities to present the students with a new topic and wealth of knowledge. This moment provided them with information that they can use to better take care of themselves as they get older and so that they are able to open their eyes to people’s varying experiences. There are things that happen in life that we have no control over, but the more we know and understand, the more that we are able to do for ourselves and those around us.