The National Children’s Cancer Society Tackles Skin Cancer Prevention With a Kid-Friendly Educational Program for Schools

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Sun Day-Fun Day uses fun classroom activities to teach children in grades kindergarten through sixth about the importance of sun safety.

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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.

When kids daydream about life as an adult, they probably think about what they’d like to be when they grow-up, how many children they might have and how wonderful life will be without mom or dad telling them what to do. One thing they likely do not think about is how important it is to protect their skin from the sun while they’re young to avoid skin cancer later in life.

Because the road to skin cancer begins in childhood, the NCCS created a sun safety program called “Sun Day-Fun Day.” Sun Day-Fun Day uses fun classroom activities to teach children in grades kindergarten through sixth about the importance of sun safety. It also provides resources for a school-wide Sun Day-Fun Day event.

Melanoma, the most serious form of skin cancer, is low compared to other childhood cancers, accounting for up to 3% of all pediatric cancers and 6% of cancer cases in teens 15 to 19 years old, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation. However, this completely changes for adults. Skin cancer is the most common of all adult cancers and the rate of adults getting melanoma has been rising for the past 30 years. This year alone, approximately 87,110 new melanomas will be diagnosed (about 52,170 in men and 34,940 in women) and an estimated 9,730 people will die of melanoma, according to the American Cancer Society.

Because ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun causes approximately 90% of 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 a few simple ways they can protect themselves when they’re outside so that they do not face a skin cancer diagnosis when they’re older.”

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 features downloadable and age-appropriate activities for teachers to use in their classrooms. Among them are a bingo game and letter/number challenge for kindergarten through second-grade students and a water maze and crossword puzzle for older elementary grades. 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 teach kids ways they can 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.”

About The National Children’s Cancer Society
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. The National Children’s Cancer Society is a 501C(3) organization that has provided over $63 million in direct financial assistance to more than 40,000 children with cancer. To contact the NCCS, call (314) 241-1600. You can also find the NCCS on Facebook and Twitter.

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