Childhood Cancer Awareness Month 2019 saw cities bathed in gold like never before in support of every child and family who have faced a diagnosis.
September is our month to shine a spotlight on the disease that tragically claims more Australian children than any other. It’s predicted that 950 children 0 – 19 years of age will be diagnosed this year alone, 750 of them will be aged under 14.
Her Excellency the Honourable Margaret Beazley AO QC, Governor of NSW, accompanied by Mr Dennis Wilson, hosted the official launch of Childhood Cancer Awareness month at Government House in Sydney on 29 August. The morning tea event was attended by 60 guests including children diagnosed, their families, advocates, medical research professionals along with sponsors, volunteers and other supporters of the cause.
Drizzle fell over the harbour city all day on Saturday night 31 August causing the scheduled candlelight vigil on the forecourt of Sydney Opera House to be cancelled. However, the official lighting of the iconic sails went ahead has planned and photos poured onto social media by those who braved the weather to have an evening out with family and friends.
Sydney wasn’t the only city to light up during September, fourteen other sites including Launceston Town Hall, Story Bridge in Brisbane, the Royal Australian Mint in Perth, Darwin’s Convention Centre and Federation Square in Melbourne all took on a golden hue as a symbol of solidarity and unity with all children and families affected by the disease.
Taking it to the streets of Sydney
For the first time, The Kids’ Cancer Project worked with the City of Sydney to have flags lining the busiest streets in the CBD for the entire awareness month.
In another first, the charity took to Martin Place in the heart of Sydney on 9 September to raise awareness among the estimated 80,000 office workers in the precinct. More than $2,000 was raised through gold ribbon sales and the event gave cheeky Oscar the chance for a cameo on Channel 7, the national broadcaster having their Sunrise studio facing onto the mall.
Call to arms in Canberra
On 10 September The Kids’ Cancer Project planted a virtual gold army of on the vast lawn of Australian Parliament House in Canberra.
Exactly 950 silhouettes of boys and girls were planted into the grass to present a picture to pollies and the public alike of just how many children are diagnosed every year. The stunt drew a great deal of media attention and the Hon Greg Hunt MP, Minister for Health, personally posed amid the installation for a photo op with Karl and Olivia Fretwell who lost their daughter Brooke to the disease when she was 14 years old.
That night, the Minister also attended a cocktail event with other parliamentarians where Karl spoke on behalf of his daughter and implored them to make funding childhood cancer research a priority. It was a speech he also delivered the following day to influential stakeholders in the corporate sector at breakfast function.
New awareness day declared
With a huge media fanfare, after months of lobbying, the Hon Greg Hunt announced a national awareness day for childhood brain cancer on 26 September.
Each year the event will focus on one strain of brain cancer with this year’s being diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma (DIPG), known as the most aggressive of all childhood cancers.
The Kids’ Cancer Project lead the initiative with Cancer Australia in bringing like-minded organisations together such as RUN DIPG to urge Australians to donate to child specific brain cancer projects.
A paid social media advertising campaign to generate further awareness of the day reached more than 230,000 users on Facebook alone which translated into 2,000 website page visits of people eager to learn more.
I don’t want to be an angel
Underpinning 2019’s Childhood Cancer Awareness Month was a suite of advertising developed and donated by Saatchi & Saatchi in partnership with The Kids’ Cancer Project.
The campaign including TV, print and digital elements paid tribute to the defiant spirit of children and young adolescents with cancer, in order to rally Australians behind the urgent need for better ways of treating the disease.
But it was another, even larger partnership with Channel 9 through Nine Cares that ensured the nation got the message.
Linda Fagan, The Kids Cancer Project Head of Marketing & Community Relations, said, “We needed a campaign that could shake-up the apparent apathy around backing science as the solution to childhood cancer, while also showing the strength it takes to live with this disease.”
“Our ambition for this year’s Childhood Cancer Awareness Month was to make people realise that new research brings new hope for these kids,” she said.
“Without the creativity of Saatchi & Saatchi along with the power of Nine Cares and their broadcast assets we couldn’t have achieved our goal.”