We never set out to change the world.
Keep A Breast Foundation began as a small effort to build a community through the arts.
This is essentially the core of our mission today.
As a young designer in the skateboard industry in the 90s, KAB Founder Shaney jo Darden fell in love with skating's creative, Do It Yourself (D.I.Y.) culture. Skateboarding was more of a creative scene than an industry, and Shaney jo quickly realized that it was the artists, designers, and community members that drove its evolution. She saw a natural breeding ground for awareness and communication.
In 1998, Modart, Shaney jo and friend Mona Mukherjea-Gehrig organized a series of homegrown art and fashion events showcasing the work of friends, coworkers and local kids from the action sports scene. The response was phenomenal. It brought a global community of well-known street artists, fine artists, and graphic designers together for a series of well-attended gallery events. These efforts soon began to attract attention far beyond Southern California.
In 1999, Shaney jo and Mona learned that young friend and artist, Margaret Kilgallen had been diagnosed with breast cancer. They knew they wanted to raise awareness in support of their friend, but nothing resonated with the creative energy of their community. They decided to stick with Modart's model of bringing people together through progressive art.
Soon after, Keep A Breast, was born. It was to be a unique art concept that could capture and communicate the physical and emotional challenges of breast cancer. The result was a series of customized breast casts.
In 2000, the first breast casts were officially showcased in an exhibition called “Keep A Breast.” It featured casts of pro-female snowboarders, painted by artists such as Shepard Fairey and Ed Templeton. This signaled a shift toward an arts-oriented breast cancer awareness organization with a new mantra: Art. Education. Awareness. Action.
For the next few years, Keep A Breast shows were organized across the U.S. and throughout Europe, with growing participation by celebrity “castees” and artists. The first breast casts were auctioned in 2002, with proceeds directed to breast cancer charities. The success of these art benefits, highlighted by artists emerging from the skateboarding, music and action sports scenes, put breast cancer awareness on the map for a younger generation.
However, awareness was not enough. Through her involvement in breast cancer outreach, Shaney jo soon realized that no one was truly reaching young people with breast cancer education and support. Existing organizations were not operating at the cultural level of teens and twenty-somethings. She developed a series of educational programs that attempted to reach youth “in their comfort zones.” This was the origin of a series of unique, interactive teaching efforts such as the Traveling Education Booth and Check Yourself! breast self-check cards.
On May 11, 2005, Keep A Breast Foundation was officially born.
Today, Keep A Breast demonstrates a new nonprofit model. It is one that assumes that today's young people are articulate, critical and ready to establish their identities through meaningful action. They are ready to be engaged and educated. Keep A Breast Foundation (KAB) communities are defined by the contributions of young people. Proof of this is in the stories received by young people inspired to act by our programs and campaigns. In Pennsylvania in 2010, two girls age 12 and 13 were suspended from school for wearing KAB awareness bracelets (Keep A Breast Foundation is also the engine and minds of the I (HEART) BOOBIES bracelets that adorned millions of wrists). They sued their school district, organized a response campaign and rallied for the support of the ACLU. In 2011, a U.S. District Judge ruled in their favor.
Stories like these continue to motivate us every day.
Our mission is to empower young people around the world with breast health education and support.
We believe prevention is the cure.
We strive to empower youth to become their own health advocates, on their own terms, in their own voice and space.
We believe that art and artistic expression are powerful healing tools.
We believe love is more powerful than fear.
We care about the health of people and planet, and believe our actions influence collective wellness.
Through creativity and collaboration, we strive to be authentic and unique in achieving our mission.
We believe that knowledge is powerful when used with a focused and transparent purpose.
We believe self-awareness and self-love are the roots of a long-term, positive relationship with our body.
We believe pushing the boundaries and questioning the status quo is crucial to maintaining authenticity and building trust.