Internationella Engelska Skolan Nacka students have recently been cutting and donating their hair as a part of a campaign to help cancer patients in need of a wig during and after their treatment. The campaign initiated in 2016 by IESN teacher, Ms.Haughney-Newby is called the GYHC (Grow Your Hair For Cancer) campaign has already donated 14 pieces of hair to Stockholm’s Smink & Perukmakarn which sells the wigs made from donated hair at a discount to cancer patients. Stockholm hair salon, Grieco-Ericsson Hair Couture, whose owner Carley Grieco has been providing special services to parents of children undergoing cancer treatments, graciously donated free haircuts and styling services last year to our IES Nacka participants for this great cause.
Ms. Haughney-Newby began the campaign in an effort to raise awareness and empathy towards others who live with difficult and challenging circumstances, and to enable students and teachers to make a personal difference in the lives of others. “I am particularly sensitive to youth who are battling cancer and also dealing with the social implications and issues of self-esteem.” said Ms. Haughney-Newby.
Sara Sergel-Ekmark , a participant in year 9 last year who, at the beginning of the school year, had serious hesitations because she had never before cut her hair and felt a sense of identity and security from her look, finally decided during the second half of the school year to join the cause saying “My hair will grow back, and although we won’t yet cure cancer, hopefully it will make someone happy.” 2018 year 9 student, Felicia Gullman-Strand, who felt it was important to show support for those who are fighting cancer said, “This is my way of contributing and saying that I care”, and year 9, Marya Khan and her younger sister both donated their hair. More students are in line to cut and donate their hair as soon as it reaches the minimum 30cm length including younger students in Year 6.
Extended family members are also joining in. Saga Fallgren, 11 year old daughter of staff member ms. Fallgren, recently lost her grandfather to cancer and wanted to participate even though she attends a different school, saying “I would like to do a good deed”. In addition, husband of staff member ms. Kazi has also jumped on board, cutting and donating his hair for this good cause.
The most important factor of this campaign is that it has helped students to be more aware and sensitive to others. They have become more cognisant of the fact that those undergoing cancer treatments, many being youths of their same age, are in need of returning to some measure of normalcy and a wig helps them regain a sense of confidence as they return to their daily lives.
The campaign is now in its second year and will hopefully continue into the future, giving students and staff the opportunity to participate when they feel ready to make such a generous and brave personal gesture. “I would love to see this campaign copied and spread to schools all over Stockholm so that people are empowered to make even a small difference in the lives of others.” (Campaign founder, Ms. Haughney-Newby)