School Cancer Awareness Programme
The Marie Keating Cancer Awareness Programme aims to promote awareness among students at post-primary level about various forms of cancer and to help them understand the importance of detecting cancer at an early stage. By making cancer ‘less frightening by enlightening’ for students, the programme endeavors to engage students with age-appropriate, interactive and informative material. The eight-module programme is available free of charge for teachers by contacting the Marie Keating Foundation directly and forms part of the suite of supports for post-primary SPHE in-service available to schools from the Professional Development Service for Teachers.
Speaking at the re-launch of the programme in September 2014, Minister Frances Fitzgerald, TD, said “Each day in Ireland, an average of 82 new cases of cancer are diagnosed and this number is expected to rise by a third by 2020. We have a clear challenge to help reduce the number of people being diagnosed with cancer by highlighting prevention and also by providing information and support to those already affected by the disease. The new Marie Keating Cancer Awareness Programme for Schools will help to achieve both of these goals.” The programme was launched by Minister Fitzgerald alongside representatives from the Marie Keating Foundation and students and staff from St Kevin’s Community College in Clondalkin, Dublin.
Liz Yeates, Director of Public Affairs, Marie Keating Foundation, said, “Whilst the prevalence of cancer is on the increase, once detected early, the outcomes are also much more positive thanks to new treatments and therapies. The Marie Keating Foundation’s new schools programme means that we can give young people the information they need to understand cancer and the opportunity to discuss it openly. Up to half of cancers are preventable so the curriculum-linked lesson plans will help students reduce their future risk of developing cancer by advising them on diet and fitness as well as improving their awareness of key symptoms. This important resource can empower our young people and show them that while cancer is a horrible disease, we can all take steps to reduce our risk.”
Also speaking at the launch was Minister Jan O’Sullivan, who said, “The Social, Personal and Health Education programme supports the personal development, health and well-being of young people. The Marie Keating Cancer Awareness Programme exemplifies a holistic vision of health education, which includes the physical, mental, and emotional dimension for each student. I would encourage SPHE teachers nationwide to embrace this programme with 4th, 5th and 6th year students nationwide.”
Aisling Sammon, a teacher at St Kevin’s Community College, has taught the Cancer Awareness Programme to students. Speaking at the launch, she commented, “The Marie Keating programme has been designed to be used within the SPHE curriculum. I found that it provided me with a fantastic resource for dealing with such a sensitive topic that can affect any student at home at anytime. It aims to make the students aware of the different types of cancers and the importance of early detection. The Programme helps to dispel the fears that young people may have about the term “cancer” and it underlines the importance of knowing the facts. It also gives students the opportunity to learn more about how to look after themselves and others and to make informed decisions about their own health. As a non-science teacher, it gave me all the resources I needed to talk to students about cancer and really empowered the students. I would highly recommend the programme to other schools.”
Andrew Cunningham, a 5th year student from St Kevin’s Community College, who has already completed the Marie Keating Cancer Awareness Programme, said, “Lots of people in our class are affected by cancer, so it was great to learn more about the different types of cancers, the simple things we can do to prevent them and how we can help a family member or a friend if they do get sick. It made cancer seem less frightening because now we understand it more.”
Minister Fitzgerald added: “I have collaborated closely with the Marie Keating Foundation for a number of years, notably organising very popular Feel Good Coffee Mornings for local ladies in my constituency of Dublin Mid-West to increase Breast Cancer awareness. The new Programme for Schools should prove similarly effective as a strategic awareness-raising technique. I commend MKF for taking such a comprehensive approach to raising awareness among all sectors and age groups in Irish society”.
The Cancer Awareness Packs were printed thanks to the generous support of Marks & Spencer, Ireland.
If you are a secondary school teacher who is interested in using the Schools Cancer Awareness Programme at your school, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01 628 3726.