It’s a commonly known fact that men die earlier than women – 4.5 years earlier, on average. This is often accepted as normal, even though it does not need to be the case. Men are dying for largely preventable reasons – with prostate cancer, testicular cancer, and suicide being some of the biggest issues facing half of the world’s population. New Zealand, in particular, has the highest youth suicide rate out of all 38 member countries of the OECD – almost five times that of the UK – and a large majority of these are men. This has to change.
Movember is an organisation making a global difference every day by investing in pioneering projects that build support networks for men facing mental and physical health challenges. As the world’s leading charity changing the face of men’s health, Movember is “engaging men where they are to understand what works best and accelerate change.”
The initiative began in 2003, with 30 men participating in the first annual Movember event – where people grow moustaches for the month of November to raise awareness for the three key issues we mentioned earlier – mental health and suicide prevention, prostate cancer, and testicular cancer. 19 years later, it’s grown into a global movement with over 6 million ‘Mo Bros and Mo Sisters’ raising awareness and money for the cause and over 1,250 projects having been funded to support men’s health.
The ‘Battle Mo Kiosk’
This year, to support Movember, Aware Group decided to do something a bit different than just growing moustaches – utilising emerging technologies to build a moustache-themed kiosk with the intent of raising awareness and money for men’s health.
The general idea was that people of any age, gender, or level of facial hair could approach our kiosk and have their moustache rated. The interactive booth uses computer vision to measure the attributes of users’ moustaches (or lack thereof) and generates a unique printout, styled like popular trading cards.
With stats, names, and descriptions of their moustache being chosen by AI, the kiosk allows visitors of the booth to compare their moustaches in a friendly competition, raising discussion around men’s health and Movember in a fun way. The results are then published to our Facebook, and the user is given the option to donate $5 to Movember – with an added bonus of this contribution being that they’re given two physical printouts of their moustache trading card.
Our ‘Battle Mo Kiosk’ is an example of how emerging technologies can be used in the most unexpected of ways to improve people’s lives – in this case, raising money and awareness for men’s health through the Movember initiative!
The project was headed by Dan Collins, our Development Services Team Lead. “Innovation at Aware Group is about taking a wild idea, like a moustache-rating kiosk, and bringing it to life. This time around we were able to donate these efforts to a great cause which added an extra dimension of job satisfaction. My favourite part is learning new ways of working – this time around I learned to apply vinyl for example – as well as watching the team grow in confidence and ability. Watch this space because the kiosk was just the tip of the iceberg!”
The kiosk was placed outside Hamilton’s renowned Mr. Pickles Bar and Eatery for the public to interact with, and the results were fantastic – the kiosk received 31 donations in just the first 48 hours!
We want to thank Hamilton ASB, Tompkins Wake, and Stark Property for sponsoring the kiosk – facilitating the project becoming a possibility through their donations. It was awesome to show the public how emerging technologies like AI can be used in literally any way you can imagine.
We even got to show the kiosk to NZ’s Minister of Economic and Regional Development, Stuart Nash, during his visit to Aware Group’s Hamilton office last month.
The project was super successful in raising awareness for men’s health, and we can’t wait to continue to collaborate with Movember on this in the future. The goal for 2023 is to have dozens of these ‘Battle Mo’ kiosks deployed around New Zealand, encouraging a giant ‘Mo’ battle-off; having people all across the country compete in the name of men’s health.
Doing our part
Along with the ‘Battle Mo Kiosk’, we also participated in the global challenge that is Movember. The conversation around men’s health is an important one, and this year a group of men from Aware Group – dubbed the ‘mo-vengers’ – committed to growing out their moustaches for the entire month of November in order to keep that conversation going and fundraise in support of men’s health.
With 13 (more-or-less) fantastic moustaches grown over Movember’s 30 days, we were able to raise a whopping $3,780! And not only that, but Aware Group pledged to match donations made to our Movember team dollar-for-dollar, meaning thanks to our team members’ commitments to growing out their snazzy moustaches, we were able to fundraise $7,560 in support of men’s health, doing what we can to help out all the “dads, brothers, sons and mates in our lives.”
All actions, big or small, are helpful in the fight for men’s health, and we’re glad we were able to do our part in supporting this ever-so-important issue. Movember is a fantastic cause, and it was a lot of fun to partake in the challenge. Some of the ‘mo-vengers’ even decided to keep their moustaches for a while longer – though some at home may not exactly agree.
We plan to continue our Movember challenge next year, hopefully beating out the number of moustaches grown and the amount of money we were able to raise this year. And we can’t wait to continue with our ‘Battle Mo’ kiosks next year, with plans to be present at events all over the country during Movember. But supporting the men in our lives is something that does not need to be limited to one month a year, or to our ability to grow a moustache.
Being there for the men in your life (or anyone, for that matter) is one of the most valuable things you can do. If someone in your life seems to be struggling, here’s a resource you can use to be the best support system you can. And if that someone in your life who’s struggling happens to be you, never be ashamed to reach out for help. We’re all in this together.