UAE teachers dress up in pink every Thursday to support cancer patients

Started by a teacher in Dubai in 2017, the Pink Shirt Thursday movement now has the support of thousands across the world

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Every Thursday teachers across the UAE and around the world dress up in pink to support cancer patients.

They raise awareness by posting their photographs on social media in pink shirts, jackets, dresses, sunglasses, shoes and masks.

Andi Price, a British class teacher at Ranches Primary School in Dubai, started the Pink Shirt Thursday initiative in 2017, to increase awareness about the disease in teacher communities across the UAE.

After four years, thousands of teachers from 20 countries have joined the Pink Shirt Thursday movement.

“It started with a group of three-four teachers at Ranches Primary School being brave and taking a selfie to post because we wanted to support people affected by cancer," Mr Price said.

“Everybody knows someone who has had cancer. We felt that raising awareness on just one day in October was not enough.

“We started wearing pink every Thursday and that snowballed in schools in the UAE.

“Now, worldwide, we have people wearing pink on Thursday, taking photos and posting them.

“It has grown so big. I can’t believe how many people are doing it now every single week.”

Teachers from the UAE, UK, Malaysia, Australia, Spain, Germany, Poland, Thailand, Singapore and New Zealand have shared their photos dressed in pink.

The teachers work as a community to support others who may be struggling with the disease.

October is breast cancer awareness month around the world.

“I wear pink every single Thursday that I am in school,” Mr Price said . He has seven pink shirts to wear on the last day of the work week, some were given to him as gifts.

“Many people come across cancer at some point in time. We don’t do enough to recognise how big an impact cancer has on people’s lives.

“We had one teacher in the UK who was going through chemotherapy, and she felt the support of Pink Shirt Thursday.”

She became a part of the campaign and dressed in pink and uploaded her photos every week.

That encouraged the group to continue raising awareness about cancer research.

Teachers are awarded a house point for weekly photos they post.

Mr Price also encourages teachers to donate to cancer research. The teachers are awarded two house points when they upload a receipt of their donation.

For some teachers, stories of family members or friends battling the disease spurred them on to action.

Rachael Wilding, principal at Smart Vision School in Dubai, has been part of the Pink Shirt Thursday initiative for two years and promotes the cause on social media.

“It is a fantastic way to make a really big educational community small. We feel like we are working together for one purpose,” Ms Wilding said.

“It has been brilliant to see how it has grown.

“Everyone knows someone who has had cancer. My sister battled breast cancer and managed to survive it."

She said the initative brought teachers in the country and abroad together as one big group.

The Scottish teacher said she loved dressing up in pink every Thursday.

Pupils at her school are also involved in the campaign and some choose to wear pink socks on Thursdays.

“I have bought more pink clothes in the past two years than I have in the last 20,” she said.