Painting the Congregation Pink

It is the second-leading cause of cancer death in women.

Approximately one in almost every eight women will develop it in her lifetime.

Every 13 minutes a woman dies of breast cancer.

We women have probably heard these statistics more than once in our lifetime. But did these motivate you to run to your cell phone, dial the nearest oncologist and schedule a mammogram? Probably not.

Which is exactly what the United States’ Food and Drug  Administration‘s (FDA)  Office of Women’s Health (OWH) thought. The OWH knew the statistics, fliers and advertisements regarding breast  cancer only reached a certain number of women, especially women of other ethnicities, races and religions.

According to Women’s Health About.com an estimated 71 percent of African-American women diagnosed with breast cancer experience a five-year survival rate compared to the 86 percent of Caucasian women who experience a five-year survival.

In addition, Women’s Health.gov reports that “research has shown that African-American women are more likely to get a form of breast cancer that spreads more quickly” than the kind that gradually progresses.

So what could the OWH do to inform a large minority quickly and personally? It created the Pink Ribbon Sundays Program. This program was designed to educate African-American and Hispanic women about early detection of breast cancer, similar to other breast cancer organizations. However, there is a twist! OWH’s recently created program didn’t wait for women to come to it, it went to the women.

Beginning in the early spring of 2011, the OWH encouraged African-American churches throughout the country to paint the congregation pink. On Sunday, April 10, 2011 The Park Ministries church of Charlotte, N.C., hosted its first Pink Ribbon Sunday event. By this time, Susan G. Komen For the Cure decided to join in on the challenge to raise awareness.

“We’re providing free educational materials on breast health,” said Mary Hamrick, Komen’s community outreach coordinator manager. “Then each church can plan their own Pink Sunday program.” (Originally printed in The Charlotte Post.)

Five months later, the Pink Ribbon program continues to flourish. Although it was originally targeted towards churches and religious organizations, both the OWH and Komen expanded the program to several other organizations from Oklahoma to Puerto Rico. In addition, Komen offers a variety of positions, including a Pink Ribbon ambassador.

Through the use of mobile mammography events, health fairs, “Pink” luncheons and concerts the Office of Women’s Health personal approach has reached more than 100,000 African-American and Hispanic-American women.

How can a simple approach eventually reach this many individuals?

1. It is personal yet credible: Women listen to other women. If a friend of mine approaches me with concrete information, I am more likely to take it into consideration. Advertisements don’t necessarily convince us to go out and visit our doctors. We invest and value what those in our surroundings have to tell us.

2. It is all about convenience: You don’t have to go further out of your normal schedule. A member of a congregation hears about it during a sermon and stays a few moments afterwards. If there is a “Pink” luncheon but you and your girlfriends had planned to go to lunch in the same general area, you could instead go to the luncheon.

3. It is emotional: Chances are  good that more than one woman you know has experienced breast cancer or knows someone who has. People generally take into account the stories we hear and often times take action based on those stories.

Where can you take the Pink Ribbon Sundays Program in your own community?

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  1. Pingback: Top Student Blog Posts From Fall 2011 « The PR Post

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