More Than a Shopping Spree: How a Visit to the Mall Can Offer an Education on Colorectal Cancer

Mar. 1, 2022
Wilmot Opens Kiosk at Mall at Greece Ridge to Educate and Connect with the Community about Cancer

To create a relationship with the community you serve, you have to be present in the community. Beginning March 4, the Office of Community Outreach & Engagement (COE) at Wilmot Cancer Institute will launch a new initiative with a unique place to make connections: a kiosk at the Mall at Greece Ridge.

Last summer, Paula Cupertino, Ph.D., Associate Director for COE at Wilmot Cancer Institute, and some members of her team staffed a cancer informational table at the mall. They brought backpacks to give away to kids going back to school as well as information about the work they do, including their research. They talked with Latino and Black families about collaborating with teens for a study looking at anti-vaping messages. 

The response they received from the people they met was rewarding.

“We had a great time talking to many people who visited us, who came up to learn about the materials we had to share,” says Cupertino. “It was very exciting to be able to share important information about our research and about Wilmot in this way.”

They realized it could be a great opportunity to have a more consistent presence at the mall, where they could meet with members of the community regularly. Patrick Cunningham, Deputy Mayor of the City of Rochester and a member of Wilmot’s Advisory board since 2016, happened to have a connection with the mall and helped Cupertino and her team get in touch to explore the opportunity.

“We’re so excited for this unique experience and grateful to Patrick and to the team at the mall for working with us to help make this happen,” she says.

The kiosk is the first of its kind for Wilmot. Moving forward, the Wilmot COE kiosk at the mall will be staffed regularly with Wilmot experts and COE specialists to answer questions related to cancer screenings, research and more. Community partners will also be invited to use the space, so members of the community may see representatives from outside Wilmot there as well.  

The COE team will officially open its informational kiosk at the mall on Friday, March 4, at 11 a.m., with a short ceremony to celebrate. March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, so for now, the information at the kiosk will focus on colorectal cancer resources available in the community. The team even plans to have an inflatable giant colon – big enough to walk through – at center court.

The event on March 4 is one of many colorectal cancer awareness events organized by groups at URMC and in the area throughout the month:

  • Friday, March 4: Dress in Blue Day
    • Wilmot will kick off the opening of its new kiosk at the Mall at Greece Ridge with a press event and tours of the giant inflatable colon at the mall’s center court from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
    • Strollin’ for the Colon will host a Dress in Blue Day event from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the Strong Memorial Hospital lobby; those in the hospital can stop by to say hello and receive information on colorectal cancer. Post a photo of yourself in blue with #StrollinfortheColon on Facebook or Twitter to show your support and have a chance at a prize.
    • Strong Memorial Hospital as well as buildings in the downtown Rochester skyline will be lit blue for Dress in Blue Day.
  • Friday, March 11:
    • The Mall at Greece Ridge visitors can take a tour of the giant inflatable colon and receive information on colorectal cancer from Wilmot experts between 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
    • Wilmot will host a  Community Conversations on Cancer talk focused on colorectal cancer from 12 to 1 p.m. via Zoom. Participants will hear from Ms. Quarnisha White, N.P., R.N., M.S., F.N.P.-C., nurse practitioner in the Department of Colorectal Surgery and Advanced Practice Provider Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Officer; and Mr. Willie Lightfoot, Owner/Operator of New Creations Unisex Shop; as well as a panel of colorectal cancer experts.
  • Friday, March 18: The Mall at Greece Ridge visitors can take a tour of the giant inflatable colon and receive information on colorectal cancer from Wilmot experts between 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
  • Monday, March 28: Local barbers and beauticians will gather to talk about colorectal cancer and how they can help educate their clients about the importance of colorectal cancer screening.

Multiple teams came together to help make these programs possible. In addition to the COE, they include Wilmot’s Cancer Community Action Council (CCAC) Cancer Prevention and Risk Reduction Working Group; Wilmot’s Hereditary Cancer Screening and Risk Reduction Program; UR Medicine divisions of Gastroenterology & Hepatology as well as Colorectal Surgery; Cancer Services Program of the Finger Lakes; and Strollin’ for the Colon.

“Colorectal cancer impacts many people in our region and this is a great opportunity to educate our community about the importance of screening and prevention,” says Candice Lucas, Ed.D., chief community impact officer with Wilmot’s COE. “By taking the first step of education, we can start to stem the tide of health disparities across our region and prevent unnecessary deaths from a disease that is preventable. It’s so exciting to see all of these groups at URMC and beyond working together to help make a difference for those at risk of cancer.”