September is National Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. Started by President Obama in 2011, its goals are simple: to increase awareness, rally support, and improve the dismal childhood cancer survival rates in the US.
In the US, pediatric cancer research remains underfunded. The National Cancer Institute’s budget of $5 billion allocates only 4% to childhood cancer research. With more funding, treatments could evolve and more children could be saved.
You may ask how you can help kids with cancer. While donations always help, there are many more ways to give and lend your support—especially during this special month.
We’ve compiled a list of ways you can participate in National Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. Pick one (or several) that resonate with you and help young people and their families fight this disease:
1. Go gold
The symbol for childhood cancer awareness is the gold ribbon. Pinning a gold ribbon to your shirt shows your dedication to the cause and encourages others to do the same, creating a chain reaction that boosts awareness and inspires social action in your community.
2. Update your profile pictures
For the month of September, the American Childhood Cancer Organization (ACCO) encourages people to apply a gold filter to their profile photos on social media. This small symbol helps advocates like the ACCO take a stand against outdated and toxic treatments while promoting research for a cure.
3. Shave your hair in solidarity
Kids facing cancer don’t have the luxury of choosing to shave their heads, but you do—and that’s why it’s a powerful symbol of solidarity, showing children going through treatment that they’re not alone and providing them hope. If you want to take it a step further, organize a head-shaving event in your local community and turn it into a fundraiser.
4. Donate time
To feel the direct impact of your support, dedicate time to the cause. Nonprofits can always use an extra hand, or benefit from services you and/or your employer can provide. Find volunteer opportunities—in your neighborhood or online, for you or a group of friends or coworkers—through VolunteerMatch.
5. Speak up for kids with cancer
With the aim of boosting awareness and inspiring people to action, provide a voice for kids fighting for their lives. Start a conversation on social media, write an email to your social network, send a tweet to your congressional representative on Twitter—the ways to inspire dialogue are plentiful. All you have to do is speak up.
6. Create childhood cancer gift baskets
Gift baskets are a great pick-me-up for kids spending long periods of time in the children’s hospital. Think about things they might miss from life at home—perhaps a stuffed animal friend, fuzzy socks, or a coloring book—and wrap it up in a gold bow. If you have the time, find a pediatric hospital, help hand out the baskets, and see a child’s face brighten.
7. Start a fundraiser for someone facing childhood cancer
If you’re connected to a child who has received news of a cancer diagnosis, consider starting a fundraiser. The cost of cancer can put a serious dent in a family’s finances, creating barriers between a sick child and much-needed care. In the US, high costs (even for those with insurance) force many cancer patients to skip necessary treatment. To help family members focus on the child’s recovery, launch a free fundraiser in his or her name to show that you’re supporting them.
8. Start a workplace fundraiser for childhood cancer research, education, or advocacy
For Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, team up with colleagues to support pediatric cancer research, education, and advocacy through a fundraiser. Crowdfunding simplifies fundraising, enabling you to collect funds from friends, family, and coworkers with ease. Call a meeting and start a free fundraiser.
9. Donate to a childhood cancer nonprofit
Whether you want to support research, education, or advocacy, nonprofits fighting childhood cancer will put your money to good use.
10. Get your representative involved
Did you know that the House of Representatives has a bipartisan caucus dedicated to childhood cancer awareness? The Congressional Childhood Cancer Caucus works toward eliminating the threat of cancer for children. If your representative isn’t already involved, invite him or her to join.
11. Get to know childhood cancer survivors
Jenny Shaw was 6 years old when she was diagnosed with cancer. She is now a proud survivor, and she and her family are determined to pay their good luck forward by giving back to others who are battling childhood cancer. You’ll find it hard not to be inspired by Jenny’s story and her fundraiser to give care bags to other children in their time of need.
12. Share your personal story
Your story could be the tipping point that inspires others to action, giving people a glimpse of what it’s like to face aggressive treatments, emotional setbacks, and an uncertain future. Take to Facebook, Reddit, YouTube, or any other social media site to share your message and inspire others to give.
When we raise our voices, others are encouraged to raise theirs. Join us in taking a stand against childhood cancer and start fundraising for cancer.