Everyone loves seeing what national month it is, and October brings awareness to a lot of important things, from bullying prevention to breast cancer. It’s a great time to get involved by volunteering and fundraising at your school. Besides all the great causes you can support, the newness of the year has started to wear off and everything’s getting to be a bit routine—now’s the time to shake things up. There are plenty of ways to get involved, raise awareness, or gather donations at your school and in your community. Here are some easy ways to get your activist on in October.
Breast Cancer Awareness Month
Probably one of the most well-known national months for October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. According to the National Breast Cancer Foundation (NBCF), one in eight women will develop breast cancer in her life, and over 300,000 new cases are diagnosed every year. There are plenty of ways to raise money for cancer research, from bake sales to flower sales. Way back in elementary school, we did “Denim Day”—it was a private school so we had to wear a uniform, but we were allowed to wear jeans on one specific day if we brought in a $1 donation. If you go to public school and wearing jeans isn’t such a treat, you can sell pink ribbons or arrange a Pink Day, encouraging students to wear pink to raise awareness and setting up donation tins/boxes in homerooms or the school office.
Mental Illness Awareness and Depression Education and Awareness Month
According to TeenMentalHealth.org, one in five youths suffer from a mental illness. According to Boston Children’s Hospital, suicide is the second-leading cause of death for people between the ages of 10–24. Mental illness and depression affect a lot of young people, and bringing attention to the struggles of people living with mental illness is important. Raising awareness and showing support for this cause is super easy and can make a huge difference. DoSomething.org has a support board you can contribute to and share your words of encouragement for peers who are living with mental illness. Another easy campaign is to ask your teacher if you can put a support board in your classroom, or ask school administration if you can do something as simple as putting up fliers with the National Suicide Prevention hotline around your school to remind struggling students that they’re not alone.
Diversity Awareness Month
Diversity comes in many shapes and sizes: race, gender, sexuality, cultural background, and so much more. And there are many ways to bring attention to the diversity in your school and ways that you, as a community, can embrace that diversity and be supportive. For example, you could have a school forum where students can discuss any issues they feel exist in the school that may not be addressed. Allow students to point out any microaggressions they face and have an open discussion about how to address and prevent these microaggressions to make your school as welcoming a place as possible.
Another great way to participate is with literature. October is also National Book Fair Month, so try to encourage students to read and buy books with diverse main characters. You can create your own book fair using donations from students and donate the proceeds to a local charity that supports marginalized voices. If a book sale is too much to do this month, you can work with your school library to put together a book display near the entrance spotlighting books with diverse main characters.
Hunger Awareness Month
Over 40 million people in the United States live with food insecurity. Access to food is difficult for so many people, and it likely affects your own community. But you can help out! A canned food drive for a week or even the entire month of October can do a lot for your local food bank. Talk to your school administration about how to set up one of these food drives. You and your friends or a club you’re part of can also go to a local food bank and volunteer. If you’d like to raise money to support your local food bank, October is also National Pizza Month. It may seem counterintuitive to sell food to raise money for food insecurity, but you can sell slices of pizza after school (when everyone needs a nice snack) for a small amount and donate the proceeds to your local food bank. For more info on ways you can help, check out the Feeding America website.
Bullying Prevention Month
Bullying is an issue we normally associate with elementary and middle school, but it’s an issue that students can deal with in high school and college as well. The most important way you can bring attention to bullying prevention is to stop it when you see it happening in your school. If you see someone being bullied or harassed, step in, speak up, and make the bully know that their behavior is not acceptable or tolerated. If you feel uncomfortable doing this in the moment, notify a teacher or administrator. You can also raise awareness by distributing materials around school to bring awareness to bullying. StopBullying.gov has some great resources and information you can easily print off and share. You can also talk to administrators at a local elementary school to see if you can talk to younger students about how to stop and prevent bullying.
Education and support
There are so many other ways to acknowledge all the different national month celebrations in October (and plenty of other months). Talk to you teachers about how they can incorporate different themes into their lessons, like your health class going over alcohol safety since it’s Collegiate Alcohol Awareness Month or doing an extra credit project for your history class on a Hispanic historical figure for Hispanic Heritage Month.
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