Wednesday, January 15, 2014

An outrageous prop for a serious purpose - the giant inflatable colon

In the United States cancer of the colon and rectum (colorectal cancer) is the fourth most common type of cancer. In 2013, 143,000 people were estimated to be diagnosed with it. The National Cancer Institute has a detailed publication on What You Need to Know About Cancer of the Colon and Rectum that you can either read or download.  But, discussing this topic is indelicate. What was needed is a change of perspective provided by seeing a huge but easy to use prop - the giant inflatable colon.   

Watch this Associated Press video about one appearing in Miami, Florida last March.

Walking through an inflatable colon significantly increased people’s knowledge, intention to get screened, and comfort in talking with others. Diana Redwood and co-workers at the Alaskan Native Tribal Health Consortium (ANTHC) in Alaska surveyed 880 adults for an article published last year in Preventing Chronic Disease magazine titled Giant Inflatable Colon and Community Knowledge, Intention, and Social Support for Colorectal Cancer Screening. You can also read or listen to an interview with Diana from December 2013 where she also talks about dressing up as Polyp Man.

ANTHC has two inflatable colons. Nolan the Colon, the giant one is 32 feet long, 20 feet wide, and 14 feet high. He cost $6000, and weighs about 160 pounds. They also have a smaller mini-colon, Nolan Junior, that’s ten feet long, and eight feet high and wide. It was designed to use in smaller venues. Both inflatables were built by Landmark Creations of Burnsville, Minnesota, which is about 15 miles south of downtown Minneapolis. An article about Landmark and their inflatable colons says they’ve built about a hundred of these unusual props. Who would have guessed there were that many of them around?  

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