From left: Betsy Nilan, President of the Get In Touch Foundation, Senator Gayle Slossberg (D-Milford), Dr. Toni Iadarola, President of Lauralton Hall and Nancy Church, Norma Pfriem Breast Center Community Education Coordinator, gathered at Lauralton Hall in Milford on October 5th to formally announce the new law requiring all public schools in Connecticut to incorporate breast health education into their curriculum. (contributed photo)
MILFORD, CT - During her own battle with breast cancer, Mary Ann Wasil of Milford created the nonprofit Get In Touch Foundation (GIT) to educate girls about breast health. As an all-girls’ high school, Lauralton Hall has had a strong GIT school chapter for ten years and active youth ambassadors who help raise awareness about the cause. In recognition of the students’ support, GIT President Betsy Nilan and Senator Gayle Slossberg (D-Milford) recently held a press conference at Lauralton Hall on Oct. 5th to announce the passage of a new law inspired by Wasil.
"We are honored that the State of Connecticut has passed a law in memory of our Founder, and my mother, Mary Ann Wasil, who was first diagnosed with breast cancer at 39 years old,” said Nilan. “Through this law, we come one step closer to assuring all girls in Connecticut have access to FREE breast health education. While our Get In Touch Girls' Program specifically targets girls in grades 5-12, men and women of all ages should be familiar with breast self-exams. There is no cure for cancer yet, so right now, early detection is our best defense."
Sadly, Wasil passed away on April 15, 2016, but her legacy lives on through the new law that requires all public schools in the State of Connecticut to incorporate breast health education into their curriculum. All students must receive age and developmentally appropriate instruction in performing self-examinations for breast cancer and testicular cancer. Research has shown that students who receive this kind of instruction have a much better understanding of their personal health and cancer risks.
“Early identification means early action and far better outcomes for women with breast cancer,” said Senator Slossberg. “Schools throughout Connecticut need to follow the example of Lauralton Hall in ensuring that all their students are informed about their own health and trained to identify a problem. I introduced this legislation at the request of Mary Ann Wasil. It is what we talked about the last time I saw her, and I know she would be thrilled to see it signed into law. I am glad that we were able to pass this law in her memory, and it will serve as one more piece of her incredible legacy.”
Numerous schools in Connecticut and around the U.S. have adopted the program and have had positive responses from students and school nurses alike. Given the ever increasing rates of breast cancer in the U.S. and particularly the growth rate among younger and younger women, the need for an educational program to help girls understand and “get in touch” with their breasts for early detection is growing in importance.
“Unfortunately, breast cancer has touched many members of our community. Lauralton has raised thousands of dollars for the GIT Foundation as part of the school’s Outreach Program and the Sister of Mercy’s commitment to women’s issues,” explains Dr. Toni Iadarola, President of Lauralton Hall. “Every year in recognition of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we cover the school grounds inside and out with pink decorations and host various fundraisers for breast cancer charities.”
This year, Lauralton Hall has a week full of GIT activities that will culminate in the 1st Annual Maryann Wasil Daisy Run on Saturday, October 29th at 12:30pm. Courage & Faith to Hope & Strength is the underlying theme as the Turf Field of Lauralton Hall’s campus will be transformed into an enormous celebration in support of breast cancer awareness. This event is open to all ages. Participants can register at 12:30 for $10 and receive a t-shirt and raffle ticket. Additional raffle tickets to win gift cards may also be purchased.
“The festivities in the center of the turf field during the Daisy Run include crossbows, pendulum bowling and pumpkin sling shots that have been built by the AP Physics and Engineering students. Students are able to combine hands-on projects with raising money for breast cancer awareness.” states Theresa Napolitano, Physics Teacher at Lauralton Hall.
All proceeds from the event will go to the Get in Touch Foundation and the Norma F. Pfriem Breast Cancer Center in Bridgeport.
“The Lauralton students and faculty are amazing role models for young women to take charge of their overall health,” said Nancy Church, Norma Pfriem Breast Center Community Education Coordinator. “Early intervention is the key to a successful outcome for those with breast cancer.”
For additional information or if you would like to pre-register for the event, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.