CoppaFeel! has been campaigning for cancer education to be part of the national school curriculum since 2013, when we projected a somewhat controversial image on to the Houses of Parliament.
Our vision was that every child got the education they needed to ensure they could prevent cancer in the first place.
Get the knowledge to at least find it early and know their body really well and to make sure teachers had the right training, resources and time to allow for these potentially life-saving conversations.
We soon discovered that campaigning for government changes is pretty hard work and things rarely move swiftly.
Since then, the risk of getting the disease has increased from 1 in 3 to 1 in 2.
REMIND to 70500.
But we have kept conversations going and, in the meantime, even conducted our own pilot study to test our theory that educating young people instils healthy behaviour and awareness.
We were able to share this information with policymakers and with the backing of some key MPs – who argued our case with the Department for Education – we finally achieved a breakthrough.
Last week it was announced that from 2020 ALL young people will be given statutory education about cancer as part of the new Relationship and Sex Education curriculum.
A new draft document has been created detailing the plans for sexual health, mental health, how to stay safe online and overall health education for primary and secondary schools.
And for the first time EVER, cancer is written into it. These are some of the words: “Pupils should know about the benefits of regular self-examination.”
I can’t tell you how proud and happy I am, but still baffled that it has taken such a long time for the importance of cancer education to be recognised in this way.
So what happens next?
The document is up for public consultation, which means anyone interested can comment and share their thoughts on the plans, up until November.
Then the draft guidance will be tweaked before being made official.
When people asked me what I still wanted to achieve with my life, however long I may be here, I always said it was to change this policy because that has real longevity and something pretty epic to include in your legacy.
So cancer, don’t be getting any funny ideas now that I’ve achieved that.
I now actually want to be around when this has become the reality in all schools.
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