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Movember and Holtzman’s Initiative

Joshua Nouriyelian

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Throughout the month of November, a majority of male teachers will appear to be more unkempt than usual. Students who inquire about the reason behind not shaving will get the answer that November means no-shave-November, but few are unaware of the larger goal behind this initiative.

Founded in 2003, the Movember Foundation is a non-government funded charity that strives to “[help] men live happier, healthier, longer lives” by raising awareness of and money for men’s health. Since their founding, they have raised $769 million and funded over 1200 programs in 21 countries. Some of the funded programs try to fight and understand cancer at a biological level while others look to offer relief to men currently suffering with the disease.

The main focuses for men’s health are prostate cancer, testicular cancer, and mental health  suicide prevention. Being the only global charity focused solely on men’s health, there is an obvious lack of awareness about the problems males face. In the Movember Foundation’s titular event, males are prompted to grow out their mustaches during the month of November in an effort to spark conversations about men’s health.

According to the Movember Foundation, “70% of men say their friends can rely on them for support, but only 48% say that they rely on their friends.” Males are overwhelmingly willing to support their friends, yet a majority of men do not take the help offered. This lack of seeking help leads to mental health issues that become more and more damaging; three out of four suicides are from males. Through their work, the Movember Foundation hopes that it will not be uncomfortable for men to ask one another for help when they need it.

Social studies teacher Mr. Ragot admired the work done by the Foundation. Ragot elaborated on the issues men faced, stating “As men, we’re raised to be strong and not admit weakness, so men’s health issues are ignored. As a society, we’ve gotten better at recognizing women’s issues like breast cancer, and we display our support by wearing pink. We don’t talk about men’s health issues enough.” Computer science and mathematics teacher Mr. Cubinski agrees with Ragot’s sentiment. “I think that any awareness for men’s health or cancer in general that can be brought into a more public forum is how we will eventually find a way to eradicate this terrible ailment.”

This year, thanks to the encouragement of Principal Holtzman, more teachers are joining in on Movember than ever before. At Holtzman’s previous school, the athletic director pushed for Movember. Near the end of October, Mr. Holtzman asked if male staff members were willing to grow out their facial hair during the month of November. He also requested they donate $1 to the Movember Foundation for each day gone without shaving, leading to a goal of $30 per person this month.

Holtzman was “pleasantly surprised by the number of participants—at least 40 staff members agreed to participate. It’s nice to see the camaraderie and unity it brought to us.” Holtzman hopes that a staff Movember can be an annual event and more staff members will participate next year. Cubinski is grateful for the opportunity to raise awareness. “It is nice to see Mr. Holtzman finding the time to get more exposure to this issue, especially during his busy first year getting acclimated to our building and community.”

Though bringing attention for men’s health is rewarding, Holtzman misses his clean shaven face and is “looking forward to shaving it off—it’s getting itchy.”

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