Leadership students at Santa Monica High School were trying to figure out how to raise breast cancer awareness on campus.
They knew that their peers had mobilized in droves for basketball games when asked to pack the gymnasium for “white-out” or “black-out” events, where they showed unity by wearing the same colored clothing.
Why not try something similar, they thought, to bring attention to an important cause?
That’s how Samohi settled on a “pink-out” promotion for Friday’s football game, where players, students, school officials and community members will wear pink clothing or accessories to show solidarity and support for breast cancer treatment, research and awareness.
The stylistic statement will be the culmination of Think Pink Week at the high school, which comes amid Breast Cancer Awareness Month campaigns across the country.
There were nearly 3 million women in the United States living with breast cancer as of 2012, according to the National Cancer Institute. More than 231,000 women will be diagnosed with invasive breast cancer in 2015, according to the American Cancer Society, and more than 40,000 women are projected to die from the disease this year.
“It’s an important cause,” Samohi athletic director Timothy Ballaret said. “A lot of people have experienced it with a loved one or someone close to them. I have seen it in the past, and I have friends who have dealt with breast cancer. It’s something that’s near and dear to me, and I know there are a lot of people out there who have the same kind of support for it. It’s a great cause. To get the awareness out there in our community, it’s important.”
In meetings of the Associated Student Body, what started as an idea to organize a “pink-out” blossomed into a full week of activities to educate students about breast cancer and encourage them to get involved.
The student government regularly coordinates events to raise awareness about breast cancer, activities director Bryn Boyd said, but dedicating an entire week is a new strategy.
Boyd’s leadership class includes a health and community committee that works to develop programming for a variety of medical causes, including children’s cancer in September and prostate cancer in November.
The October campaign is highlighted by a spirit week that includes a pajama day, pink ribbon sales and daily facts about breast cancer in a school bulletin. Organizers made “Think Pink” T-shirts that students and staffers will wear to Friday’s football game against Lawndale at Santa Monica College.
According to Boyd, football players will wear pink athletic tape during the game and cheerleaders plan to sport pink pompoms and pink ribbons in their hair.
“I’m glad to see the athletic teams willing to support it,” Ballaret said. “They can help elevate it in that way. … For us, it’s making sure that we know about it in our community. It’s always good to have it here in your own backyard and have the community raise awareness about it.”
Organizers had not established a fundraising goal as of last week, but proceeds from ribbon sales will be donated to support breast cancer research and treatment.
“They’ve already thought of ways to make it better for next year,” Boyd said of the weeklong campaign. “I’m hoping this becomes a format that we can build on.”