CONNECT4CANCER - Programs
Cancer Awareness Club Toolkit
Cancer awareness clubs can serve many purposes, some of which include (but of course are not limited to): increasing teen cancer awareness, engaging teens to get involved in the cancer community, and educating teens about cancer. The purpose of this toolkit is to provide support, resources, education and inspiration for students wishing to start High School Cancer Awareness Clubs at their high schools. Our clubs are self-governing and autonomous; this toolkit is only to serve to assist clubs in their self-determined goals. In this toolkit, students can find ideas about club activities, short lessons on cancer education, and a general sense of how they can conduct their clubs.
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Emerson will be posting materials throughout the 2015-2016 school year that she uses in each of her monthly club meetings. Feel free to use her club meeting agendas or alter them to use in your club meetings. In the meantime, please see the information below on how to start and run your club!
How to start your club
There is no uniform way to encourage teens to join a club because every school is different. However, many schools have some variation of “Club Rush” (an event where each high school club has a booth and students are allowed to walk around and sign up for their club/s of choice). If your school does have Club Rush, we would suggest making a fun poster describing your club and its goals. Another fun tip is having food at your booth. Brownies, cookies, cake, anything!! Teens love their food, and this is definitely a way to attract attention (but make sure to have your school’s permission)!
If your school does not have Club Rush, there is a variety of ways to promote your club. From posters to flyers (old school) to Instagram and Facebook, there are plenty of ways to gather support. Ways that we have found most effective would include school announcements, posters, Instagram posts, and Facebook groups.
Lastly, if your school has a community service requirement, this could be a really fun way for many students to fulfill their requirement. If you are planning to make outreach one of your clubs missions, make sure to include this information when telling students about your club.
Most importantly, no matter how you advertise, you have to make sure you give those interested somebody to contact! Make sure to provide a phone number or email for students to reach out to.
What to Do in Your First Meeting:
The first club meeting can always be intimidating. Speaking in front of your peers in never an easy task, especially when you have to come up with your own content. Clubs meeting intervals vary, so we will provide a general list of the basic items on the agenda. Adjust and customize as necessary.
- 1Introduce yourself for anybody who may not know you
- 2Have everybody introduce themselves (include name and grade, and maybe even an ice breaker? favorite animal? up to you!)
- 3Explain the purpose of the club and what to expect at each meeting
- 4Discuss and appoint club positions for the year (president- you, vice president, historian, secretary, ext)- how you appoint these positions is up to you (voting, applications, coin toss)
- 5Have the club establish its goals for the year (learn about “x" amount of cancers, have one spirit day of the year be dedicated to “x” cancer awareness, raise “x" amount of money for “x” cause- how you fill in the blanks is again up to you!)
*An important note:There might be some students in your club who have had traumatic experiences with cancer. If these people reveal themselves to you or the group, make sure to let them know that you are there for them and that you respect their privacy. If this student wants to present on the specific cancer that affected them or talk about their experience, try to give them the opportunity to do so at one of your meetings.
What to Do in Your Clubs:
The next logical question would be what to do with you club once it is formed. There are two main categories of actives we cover in this toolkit: what we like to call “Talking” and “the Doing”.
“The Talking”: Awareness, Advocacy, and Education
The essentials of cancer: awareness, advocacy, and education. Addressing these three categories in your club would provide an educational, yet fun learning experience.
Awareness is not just telling people cancer exists. Rather, the awareness part of your club could focus on the topic of each cancer awareness month. Each month has a different cancer “dedicated” to it. For example, some of the more well known months are October for Breast Cancer Awareness and September for Pediatric Cancer Awareness. Discussing the “cancer of the month” at one meeting each month (explaining what it is, who it most commonly affects - you know, basic Wikipedia stuff ) would be an easy and effective way to have a topic to briefly discuss aT each meeting.
Advocacy is another big part of the cancer community. Talking to your club about the government’s involvement in the cancer community would be really interesting for your club members. Briefly discussing legislation or FDA drug approval would be valuable knowledge for your club members to have. Explaining to your club members how they can reach out to their congressmen or senator about joining the cancer community would be useful as well.
Education is the next big factor of the cancer club topics. Educating the youth about cancer is extremely important. Educating your club members about general cancer facts would be very effective. For example, explaining to your club members that there are different types of cancer could actually be very surprising to many of them. Specifically, explaining how pediatric cancer is not simply one disease, but an umbrella containing 16 distinct diseases would be important to point out. Another topic would be signs of having cancer. Discussing common signs of having breast cancer or brain cancer may help students down the road keep themselves and others around them healthy.
“The Doing”: Outreach
The second element to your cancer awareness club may include outreach. Outreach is dependent on your community and location, but there are general ways that many schools can reach out to the community.
A really easy way would be to write letters to a near-by (or maybe not near-by) hospital with cancer patients. Having each club member write a letter with words of encouragement and sending them to a cancer patient (especially kids) could be a fun and easy activity to do during one of your club meetings. Make sure to contact a local hospital representative about details specific to the hospital.
Another way to do community outreach is fundraisers. Bake sales, car washes, you name it! If you plan on fundraising, talk to your club about what they think would be the best way to do so. One of the ways you could utilize the money would be buying toys for pediatric cancer patients at a local hospital. How you decide to use the money is really up to you and your club! Contact us if you have specific questions about fundraising.
Get the rest of your school involved! A really fun way to get your school involved is dedicating a spirit day to cancer awareness. For example, in September, have a spirit day where everyone wears yellow to spread awareness about pediatric cancer. There are many actives you could do on this day. Give everyone in your club an “ask me” badge to wear that day. If anybody has any questions about pediatric cancer, they can ask a club member for the answer! Another easy thing to do could be having a general announcement in homeroom about pediatric cancer and a really brief explanation of what it is and what they can do to help. There are plenty of fun things you could do on a spirit day, so be creative and tell us your ideas!
Outreach can be done in a variety of ways. Please contact us with any questions, comments, or ideas!!
Last, but not least….
Every school is different, so creating and running clubs in every school is going to be different. This toolkit is to provide a general foundation for your club. The length and frequency of each club will differ, so we suggest using these tips to plan your club and its meetings in the most fun and optimal way possible. Try to mix when you talk about awareness, advocacy, and education- maybe briefly do one each meeting? Maybe dedicate one meeting to planning a fundraiser?
However you decide to run your clubs, remember to have fun!! Your Cancer Awareness Club should be a fun experience for you and your club members. Bring food, ask us for t-shirts, talk at assemblies! Be inclusive! If you have any questions, comments, concerns, or ideas please email firstname.lastname@example.org. We would be happy to hear from you!!