Sharsheret, a national not-for-profit organization dedicated to addressing the needs of Jewish women and families facing breast and ovarian cancer, celebrated its eighth annual Sharsheret Pink Day on February 8. Sharsheret Pink Day helps raise students’ awareness about the increased risk of breast cancer in the Jewish community, while educating them about the organization’s vital services and 12 national programs.
The excitement surrounding Sharsheret Pink Day grows exponentially each year as thousands of students participate from day schools, high schools, colleges/universities and Israel gap-year programs. By wearing pink and recognizing Pink Day at their schools in a variety of ways, students help spread the word about Sharsheret with the hope that their efforts will generate life-saving conversations among Jewish families who are at an increased risk of hereditary breast cancer.
This year, Sharsheret also offered a new educational presentation for schools that wished to use it, as well as a variety of Sharsheret resources and giveaways. Beyond encouraging students and faculty to wear pink, there were countless other ways for schools to acknowledge Pink Day. Some schools facilitated school-wide or class-wide events that helped educate students about some of the concerns families face when dealing with breast or ovarian cancer, and how Sharsheret can support them. Others engaged in meaningful projects such as fundraisers for Sharsheret or toy drive collections, while other schools had students design Sharsheret shirts or bandanas, or even sell pink treats and candy. Ma’ayanot Yeshiva High School for Girls had a challah bake to raise funds and awareness for Sharsheret, while The Moriah School sponsored Cake Wars.
“We have been asked why we include colleges, middle schools and high schools in Pink Day, and the answer is simple,” said Director of Campus and Community Engagement Ellen Kleinhaus. “For middle and high school students, their Jewish community is their school, just as campuses are for college students, and we believe it’s important to educate them about their responsibility to others in their community. They are our next generation of Jewish leaders, and Pink Day is an opportunity to highlight that they can make a difference and greatly impact the lives of women, families and the community at large. We are so grateful to the thousands of students from our over 90 participating schools worldwide who help us ensure that every Jewish family knows about Sharsheret should they ever need us.”
Part of what made Pink Day a success this year was utilizing students’ social media savvy to spread the word about their efforts. Sharsheret created downloadable Pink Day geofilters for Snapchat and a customized composite story for Instagram for schools to use. Sharsheret’s social media partnership with participating schools helped reach thousands of students and their followers, especially through Sharsheret’s Pink Day Facebook event page, Twitter (@Sharsheret) and Instagram (Sharsheret1). On Pink Day, students were encouraged to post their pictures across all of Sharsheret’s social channels using the hashtag #SharsheretPinkDay2017. The organization was thrilled that it added 70 new friends on Snapchat and 60 new Instagram followers, and reached over 6,000 people on Facebook that day.
“A key component of our success this year was using targeted social media tools, such as Sharsheret Pink Day geofilters on Snapchat, particularly to reach middle school and high school students. It was so amazing to see how the students took it upon themselves to drive Pink Day activities and own such a special chesed program, together with thousands of other students nationwide,” said Kleinhaus.
She continued, “By engaging students using social media, Sharsheret made it as easy as possible for them to share their photos and engage in conversations. Our social media efforts, combined with an educational presentation we offered called ‘Ever Wonder Why All The Pink,’ really brought to life Pink Day’s true purpose to spread the word about breast and ovarian cancer and raise awareness, and we’re so proud.”
Some local schools that participated in this year’s Pink Day included Bruriah High School, Frisch School, JEC, Ma’ayanot, RPRY, TABC, Moriah and Yavneh Academy. Israel gap-year programs included Midreshet Moriah and Reishit.
Programs offered by Sharsheret include Peer Support Network, connecting women newly diagnosed or at high risk of developing breast cancer one-on-one with others who share similar diagnoses and experiences; EmbraceTM, supporting women living with advanced breast cancer; Genetics for Life®, addressing hereditary breast and ovarian cancer; Thriving Again®, providing individualized support, education and survivorship plans for young breast cancer survivors; Busy Box®, for young parents facing breast cancer; Best Face Forward®, addressing the cosmetic side effects of treatment; Family Focus®, providing resources and support for caregivers and family members; Ovarian Cancer Program, tailored resources and support for young Jewish women and families facing ovarian cancer; and Sharsheret SupportsTM, developing local support groups and programs.
Sharsheret, the Hebrew word for chain, is the only national organization supporting Jewish women and families of all backgrounds who are facing breast and ovarian cancer, both those who are diagnosed and those at high risk. To date, Sharsheret serves more than 65,000 women, families, health care professionals, community leaders and students from all 50 states.