Throughout the month of November, several male teachers at Dzantik’i Heeni Middle School started growing fresh mustaches in a month-long promotion of men’s health awareness — particularly for prostate cancer.
James White, math and science teacher at DZ, started the school’s participation in the mo-vement last year, and has participated personally for the past four.
Movember plays up traditional male facial hair in both rustic and modern ways and encourages people to have fun in raising awareness about a serious topic.
White said while October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, November is Prostate Cancer Awareness Month. The difference between the two, White said, is the second is less advertised even though prostate cancer affects more men than breast cancer does women.
“People really don’t know about it, nor do they talk about it,” White said of prostate cancer.
The mo-vement — Movember — was started in Australia in 2003 and spread internationally. From 2003-2010 it has raised $174 million.
Movember calls its participants Mo Bros, and the women who support their Mo Men are called Mo Sistas.
White, a former student of DZ himself, spent two years teaching overseas. He first came across the program there, and now that he’s teaching in his former school he said he thought it’d be fun to spread Movember there.
“November’s not an easy time in schools with getting colder and darker,” he said. “This is just a fun thing for people to participate in. It’s been a great opportunity for us to come together as staff and have fun. At the beginning of the month we shaved our beards off. Throughout the month, the rules are you have to start the month cleanly shaven and then grow mustache throughout the month.”
Last year’s event was “pin the mustache on the teacher” and this year they decided to have a shave-off.
On Friday students at DZ were clearly having fun sporting false mustaches they bought from fund-raising teachers and cheering loudly as White asked if certain teachers should shave just their facial hair or also buzz cut the hair on top.
Between 10 and 15 teachers and staff either shaved off their mo’s or hair — or in some cases both. Assistant Principal Gary Campbell shaved off half his mustache for the sixth-grade lunch period and waited until the seventh-eighth grade lunch to finish the job.
Several sixth-graders and one student from the seventh-eighth grade group also let staff shave off their hair — into a sporting Mohawk. Of course, these students had permission slips signed from parents.
Another fun twist to the fund-raising efforts were those by Victoria Johnson, Indian studies teacher, and Laura Vivian, school nurse. While neither can grow copious amounts of facial hair, they did have lengthy locks to contribute. Johnson’s twist to the contest was — students (and staff) could donate money to see her shave her head completely, or they could donate to see her keep it.
After a week of playful fund-raising and up to the end of lunch on Friday, donations of $268.94 said to shave it off while $540.13 of money talked, saying to keep it.
“A lot of students have asked me why,” Johnson said. “Why would you shave your head for this donation? Well, we never know, this disease, who it’s going to hit. There is no discrimination between this disease. Many of my family members have been affected by cancer. Because of that I wanted to show my support to fight and be a part of the battle against cancer. Not only for men, but also for the women. In our culture, our women are here to support the men for their Movember.”
Both had a lengthy chunk of hair chopped to donate to Locks of Love, another charity that turns contributed human hair into wigs for chemotherapy patients.
Some of the female staff even bought fake mos from the fund-raiser to wear on Friday. Principal Molly Yerkes was one such supporter who showed off a thick black mo.
White said the students have been very responsive and supportive of both the event and the information on men’s health.
“They love it,” White said. “It’s a pretty simple thing. The kids, they want to be involved, they want to raise awareness, but they want to have fun with it. It’s a great way for them to learn how serious prostate cancer is, and what it is.”
White’s goal was to raise more money than last year and donators didn’t disappoint. Last year’s total was about $1,000. This year easily hit $1,300.
“I’m hoping this will become a bigger community event,” White said. “Next year I’m going to approach the district. It’s just a really fun thing. The mustache is a symbol for a lot of different things for a lot of different people. There were definitely times as the weeks go on, guys say I’m getting a lot of flack, I wanna get this thing off.”
Movember spends 83 percent of funds raised in the U.S. on men’s health programs. The remaining goes into retained funds, fund-raising costs and administration.
For more information on Movember, visit us.movember.com.
For those interested donating, you can donate to support White or his classroom. Visit bit.ly/tFhz4H for White’s Mo-Page and visit bit.ly/ubFPh8 for DZ’s Mo-Page.
• Contact reporter Sarah Day at 523-2279 or at email@example.com.