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DePaul Students Make Strides for Childhood Cancer

With Purpose Comes Power student-lead campaign works to increase pediatric cancer research and awareness.

As we make our way through finals week, most of us are overwhelmed by our workload—we withdraw from social and extracurricular obligations to focus on research papers, group projects and final presentations we *accidentally* put off all quarter.  However, a group of DePaul public relations students are working relentlessly (through finals week) to increase childhood cancer research and awareness with their With Purpose Comes Power (WPCP) campaign.

Forty-three children are diagnosed with cancer every day according to Cure Search a nonprofit that helps search for cures to childhood cancer. Meanwhile, only 4 percent of the National Cancer Research Institute’s budget goes to childhood cancer research and only four safe treatment options have been developed since the 1970s. For an issue that affects so many children, the lack of funding for research is a problem for members of the With Purpose Comes Power campaign. Even more of a problem? No one knows about the the issue, says Olivia Knowlton, a member of the WPCP campaign.

“Childhood cancer is not fun to think about,” Knowlton says. “People don’t like realizing that 1 in 5 children diagnosed will pass away. It is devastating.”

Knowlton says the campaign aims to address the lack of awareness, particularly among college students head on and advocate for policy change. She says WPCP taps into students’ power—their social network, time, donation, and ability to advocate—to recruit supporters for the cause and provide a better future for these children.

“We do realize that the topic can seem pretty depressing, it seems like there is nothing we can do. But it is quite the opposite—there is so much that needs to be done, starting with advocating for better treatment options,” Knowlton says.

Two DePaul students making cards for children facing cancer at La Rabida hospital. (Photo courtesy of Olivia Knowlton)

Students are encouraged to share facts through our social networks, make cards for the children currently facing cancer, make a donation equal to the price of a cup of coffee, and sign a petition that will be handed to US Senator Tammy Duckworth, with the goal of pushing the Childhood Cancer Survivorship, Treatment, Access & Research (STAR) Act through congress. The STAR Act is a bipartisan legislation that would increase cancer research for children.

“By bridging the gap between knowledge and action, students are becoming educated about pediatric cancer through social media and on-campus events, creating a grassroots movement to shift the realities of childhood cancer,” Knowlton says.The campaign is inspired by With Purpose, an organization started by Erin Benson and her husband after they lost their two-year-old son, Sam, to Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma (DIPG), a rare form of brain cancer. Sam’s Parents started With Purpose to raise awareness of the inequities facing childhood cancer, including a lack of funding for research and clinical trials.

With Purpose Comes Power is a campaign run by DePaul students through the Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA). PRSSA teamed up with With Purpose for the 2018 Bateman Case Study Competition, an annual nationwide competition that invites students to compete in a month-long PR campaign.

Header image courtesy of Olivia Knowlton. 


DePaul '19 Journalsim, Public Relations and Advertising major. Diet coke is my favorite & so is eating in general. Watching Scandal, Once Upon a Time & listening to Demi Lovato are my pass times.
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