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Thousands Shave Their Heads for Cancer Awareness in Singapore

Launched in 2003 by Children's Cancer Foundation, the Hair for Hope is a head-shaving event in Singapore that raises funds and awareness on childhood cancer. Below are the campaign objectives:

- Create awareness of childhood cancer in Singapore
- Show children with cancer and their families that they are not alone in their fight against cancer
- Tell children with cancer that it is OK to be bald
- Raise funds to help children with cancer and their families
- Build a community of support for children with cancer and their families

The shaven head “represents an understanding by an individual of the ordeals that a child with cancer is subjected to.” In 2003 there were only nine volunteers but in 2012 the participants reached more than 6,000.

hair_for_hope

Kelvin Wee, a shavee newbie, explains why he joined the event:

Cancer does not have to be a death sentence and we can do our little part by supporting this event. There are too many kids out there who need our help and we can make a difference.

Patrick Koh has been participating in the campaign for the past seven years:

I know of people suffering from cancer who has gone through treatments. But not all lose their hair. But for sure they need more financial support as the treatment is quite costly. I am shaving to show the children that it's ok to be bald. There's nothing wrong at all. I am also shaving for donations to help support these children and families financially. My parents were also cancer patients many many years ago and thank GOD they were treated.

Here are some photos of last month's head shaving event:

Photo from Facebook page of Hair for Hope

Photo from Facebook page of Hair for Hope

Photo from Facebook page of Hair for Hope

Photo from Facebook page of Hair for Hope

Photo from Facebook page of Hair for Hope

Photo from Facebook page of Hair for Hope

A post-event incident became somewhat controversial when some female students who shaved their heads were ordered by their school principal to wear a wig inside the campus. The principal cited the school’s rules that do not allow “punk, unfeminine or sloppy hairstyles.”

Alfred Dodwell asks school officials to revisit policies that restrict freedom of expression:

Can't Singaporeans be free to express themselves in ways such as shaving their heads? Must there be restraints on that too? Is a teenager with a shaven head or coloured hair a bad influence on the rest of the school?

Perhaps it is time for the education ministry to re-look at the importance of uniforms and allow schoolchildren some level of self-expression in terms of the way they dress and choose to wear their hair.

Stefanie Yuen-thio wrote an open letter to the Minister of Education about the issue:

Minister, I write to you to express my grave concern for the state of our education system. It worries me that this form of technocratic rule compliance is the mindset of our leading educators. I would hope that this is an isolated incident and not representative of our educational system.

But an anonymous commenter pointed out that the girls made a promise to wear a wig before volunteering in the event:

A promise is a promise. What kind of value will you be instilling in our next generation if one can break a promise just because one feels he/she is doing the right thing? Today is breaking of a promise, what if tomorrow is the breaking of a law?

Grace Chua criticized the reaction of the school officials:

Is bald – PUNK? SLOPPY? and who is to say what is “Unfeminine”?

Even if said that they broke the rules of “Unfeminine” hairstyle, you can't have an excuse since it is for good cause?

Seriously, show some compassion. Rules are fixed but our minds are not.

BlackValkyrie7 praised all participants of the Hair for Hope event:

Those people (especially girls) who shaved bald in this event deserves full respect and recognition. Let's be honest… not everyone is able to participate to that extent. I will never participate something like this if I'm given the choice. I understand the pain of losing hair because I experienced it before. That's why I feel that those participants are very brave and sincere. It's something not everyone can do.
Thumbs up to those participants.

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