This week (November 20-26) genetic counsellors across Canada will be participating in the 2nd annual Genetic Counselling Awareness Week (see my post on this topic last year.) The theme for this year’s event is centered around dispelling common myths about genetics.
For a 2nd year in a row I am serving as a co-chair for this initiative, and for the second year in a row I am blown away by the amount of work and thought that GCs have put in to ensuring this week is a success. Even seemingly simple events, such as organizing a trivia night or movie screening, require an incredible amount of planning and coordination. GCs in Canada are taking time out of their busy lives and are volunteering their time and expertise.
I am hoping to put together a follow-up post after this week is over, with a ‘behind the scenes’ look at GC Awareness Week, in the hopes that it might provide some insight and incentive for other countries to follow suit. But for now I will just leave you with some highlights of what is coming up this week:
- Genetic Counsellors in Edmonton, Alberta and Winnipeg, Manitoba will be featured on local news programs.
- Groups in St. John’s, Newfoundland and Ottawa, Ontario will each be hosting a trivia night at a local pub. The GCs in Winnipeg are hosting a similarly themed evening, using clips from popular television shows, to help dispel common myths about genetics.
- Multiple movie screenings will be occurring across the country. Films being screened this year include: In the Family, Extraordinary Measures, GATTACA and At My Mother’s Breast. In most cases, a genetic counsellor panel discussion will follow.
- Several centres will be setting up information booths within their institution, in order to liaise directly with patients and hospital staff.
- Rumor has it an Alberta-based group will be putting together a fun-loving You Tube video this year. Click here for last year’s video from GCs at North York General Hospital.
For a full list of events and info, visit the GC Awareness Week website.
Want to help spread the word? Pass along any relevant info to family members and friends who live in Canada, or use the designated hashtags #GCAwarenessWeek #geneticcounselling and #CAGC when tweeting about GCAW or GC-related issues throughout the week.
Image credit: TheFutureisUnwritten (link to image here)
Although I know much of our readership is US-based, I thought you would all be interested in an initiative of the Canadian Association of Genetic Counsellors (CAGC) that is taking place this week.
To commemorate the 20th Anniversary of the CAGC, we’ve designated November 21-27 Genetic Counselling Awareness Week in Canada. As a Co-chair of this committee, it has been interesting and inspiring to see how this has developed into over the course of this year.
Rather than creating a structured event for GCs to carry out across the country, we put the control in GCs hands and challenged genetic counsellors nationwide to plan an initiative or event that would help to increase professional awareness in their own institution or community. The thinking behind this approach is that each region has it’s own unique strengths and challenges, and by allowing GCs to customize their message to their audience, we hope that we will have the most success in getting the word out.
We’ve created a website where we listed the events that will take place across the country this week. As I have been collecting this info from the various sites, it has been really fun to see what GCs have decided to do. Interestingly, several centres will be hosting film screenings, either in their own institution or at a community cinema. For example:
- In Edmonton, Alberta there will be a screening of the documentary, In the Family, at a local theatre. This documentary follows a woman through her decision-making process regarding prophylactic surgery, after learning that she is a BRCA mutation carrier. Following the film, a genetic counsellor will lead a discussion regarding current practices in genetic counselling and genetic testing.
- Genetic counsellors in Winnipeg, Manitoba have organized a screening of the documentary “Twisted” and a panel discussion in collaboration with the Dystonia Medical Research Foundation Canada. The documentary, by Laurel Chiten, weaves the stories of three dystonia sufferers as they seek treatment.
- In Ottawa, Ontario, genetic counsellors are working in collaboration with local art company DNA11, have organized a screening of GATTACA. This late 90’s film explores the potential ethical issues that arise in a futuristic gene-centric society.
In Toronto we will be hosting a free community event at a local pub, where we will have a panel discussion and Q&A on the impact of genetic testing on individuals, families and society. Several centers plan to set up information booths in their hospital lobby and have arranged information sessions and lunch and learn events for hospital staff.
In it’s inaugural year, we expect to learn a lot and build on the experience for next year. We will collect feedback forms and photos and post them in the weeks to come on http://GeneticCounsellors.ca. Check back often to see how this develops. And who knows? Maybe next year we can collaborate with the NSGC to create a North America wide GC awareness initiative.