Following feedback from their own students regarding their health education programme, St. Anne’s Catholic High School for Girls is using a £750 grant from the Jack Petchey Foundation to launch an innovative breast cancer awareness campaign.
Only 5 percent of all breast cancer cases occur in women under 40 years old. Early detection means there is a 90% survival rate but unfortunately, many young women are under the misconception that they are ‘too young’ to suffer from the disease. The reality is that breast cancer can strike at any age.
Therefore, the Enfield-based school will use a grant from the Jack Petchey Foundation to purchase Breastology Bags in order to promote early breast cancer detection. Each bag comprises of six soft-sculpture breast models which allow students to understand the difference between normal tissue, fibrocystic tissue and breast lumps. They will also learn techniques on how to feel for breast changes. Diagnosing breast cancer in younger women is more problematic because their breast tissue is generally denser than in older women. This means that by the time a lump can be felt, the cancer often is advanced.
Since breast cancer is not as common in younger women, being diagnosed with the disease can often feel very lonely. Projects like this provide young women and girls with an opportunity to share their concerns and highlights that shyness should not hinder one’s health or education. St. Anne’s Catholic High School is teaching its students to have a, quite literally, hands-on approach so that they can protect themselves from the most common cancer in the UK.
Julie Lee, Jack Petchey co-ordinator says “these projects are the direct results of yearly consultation with 1100 students about our PSHE and health campaigns. They review existing project and give very specific ideas to improve them further they also bring forward new ideas.”
35.6% of St. Anne’s students receive free school meals (national average 28.2%). A huge 88% of the students are from ethnic minority groups (national average 24.5%). According to a 2005 study by Breast Cancer Care, more than 85% of the questioned black and ethnic minority (BME) and socially disadvantaged women said their main source of health information was from a health professional. By raising awareness on what signs to look out for, girls are taught to not 'wait and see' before seeking medical advice– as this is often when it is too late.
The second part of their project was to teach students first aid training with training mannequins from St. John’s Ambulance. Using models with textbooks gives the pupils hands-on experience that goes further than the recovery position.
“We’re really proud to support ideas like this which encourage young people to take care of, and understand, themselves,” says a spokesperson at the Jack Petchey Foundation.
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