In 2003, Travis Garone and Luke Slattery convinced their friends in Melbourne, Australia, to grow out a moustache as a joke during the month of November. Throughout the process, they elevated the moustache from a fashion statement to a symbol of awareness around men’s health. Garone and Slattery invited 30 of their friends to join the challenge, raising funds and donating them to the Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia (PCFA). They were inspired by their friend’s mother, who was raising money for breast cancer.
Since then, Movember has become one of the world’s largest non-governmental organizations (NGOs). The main focus of the Movember Foundation is to raise awareness about prostate cancer, testicular cancer and male suicide. Although frequently associated with “no-shave November,” the Movember Foundation encourages men to get tested for infrequently discussed conditions and communicate openly about their health. The goal is to reduce the stigma in male communities around depression, mental health and cancer.
Movember started with 30 men who decided to reclaim the moustache — an iconic fashion statement. Movember had nearly 10,000 participants within two years, an increase from just 480 “mo bros” in 2004. In 2005, PCFA became the first official men’s health partner for the Movember Foundation. In 2006, PCF New Zealand officially joined the Movember Foundation, and over 65,000 people participated in the official Movember Foundation moustache.
The Movember Foundation exploded in popularity following this. By 2007, Movember was a worldwide organization with chapters in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom. Today, the Movember Foundation operates officially in 20 countries but has also inspired high school and university students to participate. The Movember Foundation has funded more than a thousand men’s health projects. Over six million “mo bros” and “mo sisters” have joined the Movember Foundation.
Last year, the Movember Foundation launched a campaign called “Family Man,” which claims to be the world’s first online parenting program that helps fathers improve their parenting skills. The Movember Foundation also announced support for mental health initiatives in Indigenous communities in Manitoba and Northern Canada, with a focus on suicide and addiction.
This year, students at the University of Waterloo will participate in official and unofficial Movember activities. UW has an official Movember chapter where students and alums can unite to raise awareness about men’s health. This month, students from various faculties have declared their intention to participate in the Movember campaign. Third-year nanotechnology engineering student Karson Sewlochan is joining the movement.
“I shaved my beard off right before November 1st. My friend and I are doing Movember together, and we’re excited to see how it turns out!”. Hopefully, UW students, professors, and alums will see a healthier outlook toward men’s mental health and cancers due to the Movember Foundation.