10-year-old Hima hands out posters in her class at school to raise awareness about breast cancer as part of PYM’s campaign. She is the first PYM brand ambassador to take the campaign to India. Image Credit: Premi Mathews

Come October and the UAE will go pink with breast cancer awareness campaigns. But, there is one campaign that is unique not just because it is a zero-cost campaign that relies on word of mouth. ‘Protect Your Mom’ (PYM) is probably the only breast cancer awareness campaign that is done by children as young as the age of eight. There are eight year olds who beat adults at quizzes and teach them about self exams and mammograms.

Last year, eight-year-old Aditya Singh, PYM’s brand ambassador who attends Delhi Private School in Sharjah, not only won the PYM ‘Design and win’ contest amongst a 100 entries from 20 different schoools and colleges, but he also hit the headlines several times when he donated his prize of two air tickets to a chemotherapy patient.

The best part is that Aditya is not alone. 10-year-old Hima Ann Joseph, who goes to The Kindergarten Starters school in Dubai, took the initiative to warn her class about protecting their mothers from breast cancer. She is the first PYM brand ambassador to take the campaign to India and represent the group at a special ceremony where they donated the first wig to a chemotherapy patient.

This year, the PYM campaign has planned contests that invite people to participate in the form of dance, song or arts to create awareness about self exams and show the importance of early detection. The last date for submissions is October 31. Whoever wants to join can just email their entries to pym20101@hotmail.com.

The school or college that organises the best event to create awareness about self exams will be awarded a PYM trophy. We already have 21 brand ambassadors and hope to get many more through this year’s campaigning.

Our biggest challenge is not having any funds. Even promoting the page on Facebook requires money. It is really tough to get entries for the contest without promotion. We have to really sell it because it is unique. Regardless of this, we managed to receive over a 100 entries last year from 20 schools and colleges.

The story of PYM, which was initiatied two years ago, will soon be reaching every school and college in the UAE through a book called “67 inspiring stories”. The book is compiled Nahtam Social Responsibility — an Abu Dhabi-based organisation which supports a lot of social causes. The group had thought of this book to pay tribute to Nelson Mandela. They have apparently sent copies of the book to all the embassies in the UAE.

From young pupils to college stdents, PYM has been harnessing creativity to emphasise the importance of early detection through dances, skits and posters — the language of the youth. Any student can join and register their team of brand ambassadors and join the fight from anywhere in the world. If every child pesters his or her mother to check for early signs of breast cancer, we can save 400,000 lives every year — this figure is according to the World Health Organisation (WHO). With early detection, which means the cancer has not spread, the survival rates with treatment are up to 98 per cent.

Check www.protectyourmom.asia and Protect Your Mom on facbook for more information.


The reader is the founder of the Protect Your Mom campaign based in Dubai.


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