Raise cancer awareness? Shear thing

SINGAPORE - To whoops and gasps from her schoolmates, Katherine Tan, 12, had her long hair shaved off yesterday.

Twenty centimetres of her hair was braided and snipped off so that it can be made into a wig for cancer patients.

The rest was sheared off, as a show of solidarity with cancer patients who may feel self-conscious about losing their hair due to chemotherapy.

"I want to tell them they're not alone, and it's okay to be bald," said the Grade 7 Singaporean student at St Joseph's Institution (SJI) International School. She was among more than 180 students who took part in two charity drives to raise funds and awareness for cancer patients.

Beautiful Lengths is where women cut off their hair, which will then be sent to the American Cancer Society to make pro-bono wigs for cancer patients; Hair for Hope encourages individuals to shave their heads bald to raise awareness for children's cancer.

Organised by the senior school student council, the drives are an annual tradition. One in five of the students, as well as parents and teachers participated yesterday.

Principal Bradley Roberts said the events were an opportunity for his students to "identify with other people and make a statement, in a visual way, to support those in the community".

He added that the seven girls who shaved their heads would not have to wear wigs to school.

Last year, St Margaret's Secondary School principal Marion Tan sparked an online storm after she insisted that five students who had shaved their heads for Hair for Hope wear wigs in school, as they had promised. She later relented.

This article was first published on June 12, 2014.
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