Fighting Cancer with Characters: A Look Into Childhood Cancer Awareness Week

Photo credit: Savannah Speake

By Maya Al Sabeh, Features Editor

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“I intend to populate Instagram with children’s characters for Childhood Cancer Awareness Week. Give me a comment and I’ll assign you a character.” This caption, accompanied by a picture of a popular Disney character, went viral on Instagram throughout the first week of December with the mission of spreading awareness for childhood cancer.

Consumed by the supportive message they were trying to send to their fellow community, most students participating in the week-long posts were not aware of the fact that there is no such thing as Childhood Cancer Awareness Week, rather there is a Childhood Cancer Awareness Month.

“I didn’t really know about Childhood Cancer Awareness Month before the posts on Instagram became popular,” said Anjali Thakrar, a sophomore at Dos Pueblos High School.

Many students are comparing the awareness week to the ALS(Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis) Ice Bucket Challenge as well.

Junior Gillian Fraas shares her thoughts on how the two trends compare.

“They are both worthy causes to raise awareness for and they both started online,” Fraas said.

Although both of these trends spread support to organizations in need, they are still more different than alike.

The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge was originally driven by the ALS association as a fundraising campaign for those with Lou Gehrig’s disease. However, the Childhood Cancer Awareness Week was an effort made simply by an online community, not a substantial organization.

Another major difference is that the Childhood Cancer Awareness Week (CCAW) posts were shared by our very own Dos Pueblos student community and quickly gained recognition without the need of famous celebrities to call to action.

“I feel like it’s a lot more powerful that students made such an impact with Childhood Cancer Awareness Week on Instagram. I’m seeing almost as much posts of Disney characters as the Ice Bucket Challenge and I feel like there’s a lot of love and power behind the fact that we as students can do that” Fraas said.

The month of September was the National Childhood Cancer Awareness Month and was supported by the American Childhood Cancer Organization (ACCO), as a legitimate nationwide strive to gain awareness for the cause.

Things like wearing awareness shirts or the organization’s gold bracelet were meant to draw attention to the young cancer patients. According to the ACCO, gold was the ideal color to choose as it represents a precious metal and the most precious of all are the children of today.

However, this analogy may not be the best way to gain people’s attention. One reason for this may be that most people do not recognize what the gold ribbons stand for exactly and are less likely to be interested in them.

The CCAW, on the other hand, had a much easier time gaining recognition on social media.

The Instagram posts sends a clearer message about the cause and gains more interest as people recognize the childhood Disney characters that they know and love.

“I think Disney characters gain more recognition because it grabs your attention and reminds a lot of people of their childhood,” said junior Aimee Argenbright.

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