Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Ideas to Raise Awareness in Your Community

Today I received several emails from people, touched by melanoma, who asked me for ideas on how to raise awareness about skin cancer prevention in their respective communities.

Albeit for me to project myself as some sort of expert on skin cancer awareness activities, especially when I, like many other "crusaders", run a non-profit voluntarily, in between working a full-time job and with little means and little manpower. Yet, it can be done. One of my mottos is as follows: "When there is a way, there is a way."

This is so true!

With that, here are a few "unique" ideas for you to explore as you spread the word about skin cancer prevention education in your own community.

* Sun Safety Fashion Show. Get your local Miss Titleholder, a group of kids, and host a fashion show featuring sun protective clothing and get young people excited about sun safety.

* Essay Contest. Host an essay contest for middle school, high school, and/or college students about a particular topic related to skin cancer, such as the dangers of tanning. The winner can get their essay published in the local newspaper, magazine, win a cash price/scholarship (donated by a local business sponsor), or whatever other reward you deem appropriate.

* "Ask the Experts" Q&A Panel. Gather a few dermatologists, melanoma survivors, family members, skin cancer educators, and advocates, together to host a public forum/Q&A where concerned community citizens, parents, local leaders, and business owners can ask questions, and get a good conversation going on skin cancer prevention, specifically for your town and neighborhood. It certainly helps put faces to the disease, and make it more "real" to people, and provides for opportunities to network with others who share your passion and concern for this issue.

* Public Service Announcement/Video Contest. Team up with local radio and/or television station and host a contest for the youth in your community - the student who writes/produces the best PSA radio and/or television commercial on skin cancer prevention, will have their winning PSA played on the air throughout the month of May which is national Skin Cancer Awareness month.

Other, more traditional ideas which seem to work well for people are 5k run/walks, support groups, tel-a-thons, and benefit concerts.

At any rate, those are a few of the ideas that I have tried with The Cancer Crusaders Organization, and hence suggested to those who emailed me today. I hope one or more of them prove successful for you as you strive to educate others about skin cancer; to raise awareness and thus save lives. And, don't worry about whether you have a large group of supporters rallying behind you as you lead the skin cancer crusade in your hometown. Don't worry about the lack of resources or manpower. The resources will eventually come. In the meantime, remember the words penned by Margaret Mead:

"Never doubt what a small group of committed, dedicated individuals can do."

Sometimes that small group is comprised of one person, but just think -

Someone, somewhere along the way has to be the one to pave the way and lead others along the path; to inspire others and thus make the world a better place. You can make a difference. You will make a difference. So, keep fighting the good fight! And remember, you are not alone - there are quite a few of us, scattered across the country, who share your passion for fighting this disease and are fighting along with you.

Wishing you the best with all of your endeavors!

Your friend in the fight,

PS: Let me know how they turn out, or if you have additional ideas (or better ideas). Keep me posted on the work YOU are doing to combat the world's most common cancer! After all, it takes a collaborative team effort. So, let's work together!

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