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’stashing Movember in memory

Michael Bouttger plans on encouraging his dad to step up exercising a bit and Vienna Brown is happy her dad takes his fitness seriously.

Michael Bouttger plans on encouraging his dad to step up exercising a bit and Vienna Brown is happy her dad takes his fitness seriously.

Klaire Hartley has found it fun wearing a moustache, but she’s pretty sure her mom would not be happy if dad was to grow one — even for Movember.

The Grade 5 students at Arthur Stevenson elementary in Westsyde, along with the other 18 kids in their class, spent the past year learning about the reasons behind the Movember prostate-cancer awareness month.

Their teacher, Tony Berardi, said he had an interest in turning the Movember campaign into teaching moments for his class for educational and personal reasons — his father and uncle were both touched by cancer.

The class has learning “buddies” in Dessa Gottfriedson’s kindergarten/Grade 1 class, so the two teachers worked together with their students to talk about healthy living and eating, about the role exercise plays in health, about why men grow moustaches, about how important annual checkups with the doctor can be and about how to talk to their own dads about the issue.

Along the way, they learned about Terry Fox, his fight with cancer and his own fundraising series of marathons.

Each class also brought in an art component; Berardi’s students made stick-on moustaches while Gottfriedson’s students did artwork with their dads — and one mom — with whiskers between their lips and their noses.

For the younger ones, it was a chance, as Lindsay Gustafson said, to learn “why men are growing moustaches now.

For Keegan Meyers-Martinson, it was about learning more about healthy living. For Maddine Lidder, the entire month-long exercise “was really, really fun.”

Berardi said he brought in some aspects of social justice to the discussions and talked about how, sometimes, dads don’t always hear the message.

“What matters is who the voice is giving it,” Berardi said, noting that, while his own wife might talk to him about male health, the reality for him — and, he suspects, for many men — is he is more likely to listen if the message comes from his children.

The two classes worked together throughout November, sometimes once a week, sometimes more or for longer periods, depending on the subject.

The older children also helped the younger ones get their winter gear on at lunchtime and interacted with them in a way that benefits both.

They all like the interaction, the students agreed and, Berardi noted, each age group learns from the other.

“We have sort of summed it up with the saying on the door,” Gottfriedson said.

“Creating awareness — one ’stache at a time.”