Youth Against Cancer in Kenya (YACK) recently organized a talk at the Peponi Preparatory School in Nairobi. The talk targeted and engaged year eights students in the school. The theme of the talk was the relationship on lifestyles and cancer as well as other Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs).
Students were given information on unhealthy lifestyles as well as healthy lifestyles and were encouraged to live a healthy life. Peer pressure on usage of drugs and alcohol were also discussed and discouraged, thus creating awareness among these young students. The talk was conducted in partnership between YACK and YP-CDN’s (Young Professional-Chronic Disease Network) Dr. Mellany Murgor, a young graduate medical officer. Dr. Mellany, addressed the students in very simple terms so that they would understand the concept of cancer and lifestyle.
‘We got very positive responses as none of them want to live an unhealthy lifestyle’ says Atilla, CEO of YACK. ‘We made it clear that lifestyle is a choice and everyone is control of the lifestyle they choose to live’ he adds.
YACK believes in the power of partnerships and works to enhance this. YACK is also a member ofKenya Network of Cancer Organizations (KENCO) and Union for International Cancer Control(UICC). UICC is a membership organization that exists to help the global health community accelerate the fight against cancer.
Mr. Martin Kittony, Operations Manager comments that ‘during the talk at Peponi School, the students were full of excitement and energy; waiting to burst out with a million and one questions. Since it was an interactive and engaging talk, their knowledge about cancer was tested by giving a small quiz at the beginning of the talk’.
YACK exists to advocate for and create awareness about the risk of cancer (and other non communicable diseases) to the youth through social media and events that will lead to behavior change; thus directing the youth to healthier lifestyles by encouraging them to participate in outdoor activities, regular exercise, avoiding tobacco use and low alcohol consumption and eating healthy.
YACK was co founded by two college students: Atilla Merdin-who is also the volunteer CEO and Martin Kittony- who is the volunteer Operations Manager. Both are year 3 students in International Business Administration at the United States International University –Nairobi. YACK was founded in 2014 and registered as an NGO in March 2015. It has a board of directors who are working together with the founders to reduce cancer incidence and other NCDS in Kenya by empowering the young generation.
Atilla Merdin, Co Founder and CEO of YACK says that “YACK strongly believes in the power of the youth and that they can bring about change if empowered with the correct knowledge and attitude. The future of every country lies in its youth’. Atilla adds that ‘More emphasis and energy needs to be put into the role of the youth in disease control. Governments and other bodies need to work with the youth and invest in them’.
Youth Against Cancer in Kenya activities include:
· Advocating for youth friendly policies.
· Partnering with other like-minded organizations/individuals.
· Organizing for youth oriented public events and talks on cancer.
· Empowering the youth to become cancer advocates
· Offering psycho-social support for youth affected with cancer/ or those who have family members suffering from cancer and other NCDs.
More about YACK can be found at: http://yackenya.org/
Author: Dr. Zipporah Ali