Check It Out!®
Check It Out!® is a breast health and cancer awareness program for junior and senior female students in Metro Atlanta high schools, as well as women in colleges, women’s groups and the workplace. For the past 20 years, Greater Atlanta Hadassah and our partner, Northside Hospital, have worked together to bring the Check It Out!® program to many schools and other venues in Fulton, DeKalb, Cobb and Gwinnett counties.
Funded through a grant from It’s the Journey, Inc., this important program strives to educate young women about breast cancer – the leading cause of cancer-related death among females in the United States – and the importance of early detection. The program takes about 50 minutes and consists of a presentation by Northside Hospital’s nurse/breast health educator, with emphasis on healthy lifestyle choices and awareness of body changes, a brief talk by a breast cancer survivor, viewing of a DVD that shows how to perform breast self-examination (BSE), a period for questions and answers, and, if there is time, BSE practice with breast models. Each attendee receives a kit containing a latex mini-breast containing a concealed lump, a shower card illustrating BSE, literature from the American Cancer Society and Northside Hospital, calendar reminder stickers, and a pencil and index card for questions. We have found that the young women are more willing to ask questions if it is an all-female audience.
Since its national inception in 1992 Check It Out!® volunteers have taught BSE to more than 500,000 women in 30 states. Since 1994, the local program, in partnership with Northside Hospital, has educated 35,000 young women in metro Atlanta high schools and sororities about breast cancer and early detection.
In 2013 and in September 2014, Greater Atlanta Hadassah and Northside Hospital were awarded grants of $3,750 and $2,094 by It’s The Journey, Inc., producer of the Atlanta 2-Day Walk for Breast Cancer. The grant funded the Check It Out!® breast health and cancer awareness program in high schools in the greater Atlanta community. “Grant funding allows our program to distribute information about breast health, including reminders about the importance of breast self examination, to everyone who attends a Check It Out!® presentation. We ask the young women to share the information with their friends and family members, too,” says Ellen Banov, Greater Atlanta Hadassah Check It Out!® program chair. Pictured left to right: Glenn Martin, It's The Journey Chairman of the Board; Susan Casella, Northside Hospital; Ellen Banov, Check It Out! ® Chair; Laurel Sybilrud, It's The Journey Grants Chair; and Kimberly Goff, It's The Journey Executive Director.
Breast health education efforts are typically aimed at adult female audiences. Our target audiences, i.e. older teens, college students, and young working women, tend to be overlooked based on the assumption that they are “too young” to worry about the disease. From our volunteer efforts and personal experience, we know that the teen years are not too early to learn to be aware of our breasts and any changes in them. The questions presented at our programs and the evaluations we receive show that many of the young women and their families have been touched by breast cancer, and most know someone who has been affected by it. They welcome the chance to learn about breast health, risk factors, and breast self-examination. We welcome the opportunity to teach this pre-mammography group the importance of Breast Self Examination (BSE) and early detection.
Though most of our presentations are in high schools, Check It Out!® has been fortunate to schedule programs in colleges, organizations, and businesses as well. The program, which includes an introduction, a discussion of risk factors and healthy lifestyle choices by our nurse educator, a short DVD demonstrating proper breast self examination techniques, and a personal story from one of our wonderful survivor speakers, resonates with women of all ages.
With the exception of our professional nurse educator, who is on staff at
1. Women willing to become area coordinators to schedule Check It Out® programs either in private schools or for adult women in corporations,
2. Breast cancer survivors willing to attend the programs and speak briefly about their respective personal experiences,
3. Women willing to attend the programs to pass out “goody bags” to the students who attend the programs, and
4. Women who can come to the GAH office to assemble those goody bags.
Suggestions for schools or organizations to contact are always welcome! For more information about how to schedule a program in your school or to volunteer, please contact Ellen Banov, Greater Atlanta Hadassah Check It Out!® program chair at firstname.lastname@example.org or 678-443-0714.
GAH, Northside’s “Check It Out!” Get Grant, Atlanta Jewish Times.