Caleb’s Feet Foundation
In 2013, Linda Halsey, an executive director at a Brooklyn dance company, founded Caleb’s Feet Foundation (CFF) in honor of her daughter Cheryl Janeé Parris who battled cervical cancer. The foundation was named after Caleb’s Feet Dance Company, which was owned and operated by Parris prior to her passing. With the passing of her daughter, Halsey felt that there was a need to share the information about cervical cancer and HPV infection with her community. Halsey was not aware of cervical cancer or its link to HPV infection until it touched her family.
“Keeping Cheryl’s beautiful artistic and generous spirit alive by empowering others with the knowledge to prevent cervical and other HPV cancers was the inspiration for the foundation,” said Halsey.
One of their goals is to expand outreach to the Hispanic/Latino community. CFF is seeking Spanish-speaking volunteers to help inform and educate the Hispanic/Latino community on the importance of HPV vaccination. “I believe that everyone should be made aware about cervical cancer, HPV, the importance of having their sons and daughters vaccinated for HPV,” said Halsey.
While CFF focuses much of its outreach in the Brooklyn community, the foundation is actively working on extending outreach to other boroughs of New York. “New York is a melting pot of culture and races,” said Halsey. “I have learned that in order to change the perception of HPV vaccination, we must get information out to the communities and collaborate with other grassroots organizations tapping into emerging ethnic markets.”
Reaching beyond Brooklyn in counties where the poverty rate can be as high as 33% and with low rates of HPV vaccinate series completion rates at 24%, is a challenge that CFF has taken on. The distribution of materials at health fairs and community events has been very successful because it has allowed CFF to provide information to the community that is not otherwise made available.
CFF attends 8-10 health fairs and community events every year giving presentations and distributing educational materials about HPV and teens, cervical cancer, HPV fact sheets for men, how talk to your doctor about HPV, and more. Also, CFF sponsors a family-oriented event during Cervical Awareness Month in January that provides them the opportunity to expand their target audience reach.
July will be CFF’s signature month as they hold their 3rd Annual Teal Gala Event. This event highlights the need for raising awareness about cervical cancer and raising funds for cervical cancer research. Monica Sull, Adolescent Immunization Coordinator, NY Department of Health and Hygiene will highlight the importance of HPV vaccination as the keynote speaker for the event.
Halsey hopes her personal story will encourage and empower others to learn more about HPV. Recently, the American Cancer Society recognized CFF’s cervical cancer outreach by including them in their HPV Cancer Survivor Organization Database. The database gives immunization and cancer stakeholders a way to contact survivors about potential speaking engagements, so they can share their story with others.
CFF plans to expand their program and provide seminars to educate the community about HPV vaccination, dispel some of the myths, and offer a platform for community members to attend seminars, and to have trusted messengers such as doctors on hand to talk about HPV vaccine and answer questions from the audience. These seminars will provide people with enough time to learn in a relaxed atmosphere without the time constraints of a visit to the doctor’s office. According to Halsey, “we are becoming the catalyst between the pediatrician and the parent/caregiver by providing the most current information so that parents can have an informed discussion about the HPV vaccine with their child’s medical provider.”
For more information visit Caleb’s Feet Foundation.