Nicole Funaro, left, and Maggie McAndrew, seniors at Sacred Heart Academy in Hamden, untangle a "Chain of Strength" during "Paint it Pink" week, which began Oct. 15. (Photo by Mary Chalupsky)
HAMDEN – In honor of national breast cancer awareness month, students at Sacred Heart Academy took part in their annual "Paint it Pink" week Oct. 15-19 to offer support and raise awareness about the disease that touches the lives of so many people.
To kick off the week, 60 members of the Office of Campus Ministry made gift bags for cancer patients at Yale-New Haven Hospital’s Smilow Cancer Center. Students filled pink bags with notes of encouragement, calendars, inspirational buttons, mints and head scarves.
Other students made a prayer chain comprising the names of cancer patients and survivors provided by students. Every morning, the student body offered a special prayer that included an intercession for the people represented by the links on the prayer chain displayed in the school cafeteria.
"It’s a way for us to reach out to those who have cancer and offer our support," said senior Nicole Funaro, about her involvement in the tradition that continues to grow with activities and participation every year.
Students also viewed a short YouTube video, "If it doesn’t kill you it makes you stronger," featuring cancer patients at the Seattle Children’s Hospital.
Other activities to celebrate the week included a "baked goods in pink" sale, with proceeds going to local cancer relief and research organizations; and a "Putting on the Pink" dress-up day to conclude events on Friday.
The academy also participated in a "Get In Touch" breast health initiative – a national program that encourages girls of all ages to get in touch with their bodies by teaching breast self-examination in the crusade against breast cancer.
Sister Lany Jo Smith is a member of the Apostles of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the order that operates the school. Also the director of campus ministry, she lauded the involvement of students at the academy, noting that they see themselves as "not just friends but sisters" who are committed to helping others.
"This week is a wonderful example of how their work is inspired by their hearts," she said.