The National Children’s Cancer Society Rolls Out Kid-Focused Skin Cancer Prevention Program

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After helping children as young as four face the challenge of skin cancer and watching adult skin cancer rates continue to increase, The National Children’s Cancer Society (NCCS) has created an awareness program that includes fun classroom activities and resources for a school-wide educational event.

“There are many health benefits to children playing and exercising outside, but skin exposure without protection can be dangerous to them down the road,” says Julie Komanetsky, vice president of Patient & Family Services at the NCCS

After helping children as young as four face the challenge of skin cancer and watching adult skin cancer rates continue to increase, The National Children’s Cancer Society (NCCS) has created an awareness program that includes fun classroom activities and resources for a school-wide educational event.

The Sun Day Fun Day program is designed to teach elementary and middle schools students about sun protection in hopes of lowering their risk of getting skin cancer as an adult.

In children, skin cancer rates remain low compared to other childhood cancers. Melanoma, the most serious form of skin cancer, accounts for up to 3 percent of all pediatric cancers and 6 percent of cancer cases in teens 15-19 years old, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation. However, cancer of the skin is the most common of all adult cancers. The rates of adults getting melanoma have been rising for the past 30 years, according to the American Cancer Society (ACS). Each year, nearly 5 million Americans are treated for skin cancer, and more than 76,000 new cases will be diagnosed this year, reports the ACS.

Because ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun causes about 90% of nonmelanoma skin cancers, the NCCS maintains that it’s never too early to educate children about the dangers of excessive sun exposure. “There are many health benefits to children playing and exercising outside, but skin exposure without protection can be dangerous to them down the road,” says Julie Komanetsky, vice president of Patient & Family Services at the NCCS. “It’s important for children to learn about skin cancer and a few simple ways they can protect themselves when they’re outside.”

Children, like adults, are encouraged to avoid sun exposure between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m., when the sun’s rays are strongest. Other safety tips include playing in the shade as much as possible, and using hats, long sleeves and a sunblock with a minimum SPF 30 during extended exposure to the sun.

In addition to safety tips, the Sun Day Fun Day website includes downloadable and age-appropriate sun safety activities for teachers to use in their classrooms. For example, an art activity has younger students select and color items for a beach bag that they believe would protect them from sunburn while at the beach. A challenge for middle school students tasks them with researching Public Service Announcements (PSAs), then writing a media-ready PSA that promotes sun safety.

“All the activities are intended to empower kids to take charge of their own health,” said Komanetsky. “We hope these lessons stick with them throughout childhood and ultimately result in them avoiding skin cancer as adults.”

For schools that would like to have Fun Day Sun Day at their school, the NCCS provides all the needed resources on the website.

The mission of The National Children's Cancer Society is to provide emotional, financial and educational support to children with cancer, their families and survivors. To learn more about the NCCS and its support services, visit thenccs.org. For information and resources for Sun Day Fun Day, visit thenccs.org/sunday-funday. Information for survivors is available at beyondthecure.org. The National Children’s Cancer Society is a 501C(3) organization that has provided more than $61 million in direct financial assistance to more than 36,000 children with cancer. To contact the NCCS, call (314) 241-1600. You can also visit the NCCS on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/thenccs.

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Lori Millner
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