When Mimi Stein, a 2nd-grade teacher at PS 63 in the East Village, walked into the schoolyard to collect her students on Oct. 13, tears came to her eyes.
Stein, who was diagnosed with breast cancer in August 2018, had invited staff and students to wear pink as part of the UFT’s annual initiative to raise awareness about breast cancer — and her school community delivered.
“Teachers, students, family members, little babies — they were all in pink,” she said. “The way our community came together was beautiful.”
Because of the disruptions caused by the pandemic in the 2020–21 school year, participating in “Go Pink Day” this year was a hopeful return to a cherished tradition for many UFT members across the city.
“It really builds a sense of community again,” said Medina Selmanovic, the chapter leader at PS 46 in Fort Greene, Brooklyn. “A lot of our staff members and family members in our community have gone through breast cancer themselves, so it hits close to home.”
Breast cancer has also touched the lives of staff members at MS 101 in the Bronx, where Chapter Leader Angelo Scuccimarri worked with student government representatives to create a fundraiser for the American Cancer Society’s Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walks. Students who donated had the opportunity to wear pink rather than their school uniforms. The school raised more than $450.
“It’s gratifying to raise their social consciousness around this issue,” Scuccimarri said. “To see our hallways and classrooms filled with students wearing pink was very fulfilling.”
For Stein, who was diagnosed at age 40 during her first annual mammogram and is now cancer-free, the day is an opportunity to share her story and encourage others to be vigilant.
“I’ve worked hard to be open and transparent about my journey since my first Pink Day in 2018, and every year I have teachers tell me they got mammograms because of my story,” she said. “It’s not just about me, it’s about raising awareness in my community.”