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Time to grow your mo’

NAIT has a full month of Movember activities planned to raise awareness and funds for three important men’s health issues: testicular cancer, prostate cancer, plus mental health and suicide prevention.

There will be four weeks of Movember events, with each week focusing on a specific realm of men’s health. Kick off week began on Oct. 30 and 31 at Fresh Express and the CAT Building respectively, where “swag bags” were distributed to promote the events. Week 2 is dedicated to spreading awareness about testicular cancer, led by Health Services in the South Lobby. Week 3 will be integrated alongside National Addictions Week and will be piloted by the Department of Student Well-Being and Community. The fourth week of November will be in collaboration with Health Service’s regular blood drive to promote awareness about prostate cancer and the final week of Movember entitled “Sho Yo Mo” is dedicated to revealing the best ’staches of the month.

Tanya Spencer, clinical psychologist and lead of Student Counselling and Chaplaincy at NAIT explains that while Movember has come to NAIT in the past, this year the campaign has been upgraded to include more departments, more events for students and a dedication to spreading the awareness.

“The Movember initiatives map nicely onto NAIT as an organization, partly because in previous years it’s been staff who’ve spearheaded the initiative, so it’s a cause that’s near and dear to their hearts,” said Spencer.

In 2008, men’s mental health and suicide prevention was integrated into the Movember Foundation with the aim of reducing the stigma surrounding suicide in men. With over 12,000 apprentices at NAIT, Spencer emphasizes the importance and prevalence of spreading awareness about men’s mental health on campus.

“NAIT’s campus is overwhelmingly male in terms of student body as well as staff, we’re fairly unique in that regard. And with regard to the trades … the rate [of suicide] compared to the general population is about four times what it would be in the general population,” Spencer said. “Men and women attempt [suicide] at about the same rate but men tend to die by suicide more often because they tend to choose more lethal means.”

The Movember Foundation was started in Australia in 2003 by two men, Travis Garone and Luke Slattery, who decided to bring the moustache back into fashion trends while simultaneously supporting prostate cancer research.

In their first year of Movember, Garone and Slattery convinced 30 of their friends to participate. While they didn’t raise any money, the campaign gained momentum and, by 2004, the Movember Foundation had raised $50,468.

The foundation continued to grow and by 2007 it had spread to six additional countries, including Canada.

To date, the foundation has raised $759 million from over 20 countries worldwide and more than five million “Mo Bros” and “Mo Sistas.” The foundation has also expanded to address two addition prevalent men’s health concerns: testicular cancer and mental health and suicide prevention. In Canada, the money raised is donated to fund various organizations and projects committed to researching and reducing the risk of all three health problems.

In addition to growing a moustache, there are many ways to get involved in the Movember Foundation. Donate, become a “Mo Bro” or a “Mo Sista,” hold an event or check out one of the many events at NAIT throughout the month of November.

For more information about the foundation and campus events, visit www.movember.com.

– Shawna Bannerman, Assistant Editor

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