There is a global awareness that skin cancer is now classified as an epidemic. National results in the United States show alarming statistics that one in five Americans will develop skin cancer as reported by the Skin Cancer Foundation. Changes in man’s lifestyle and habits have contributed to this increase, yet the education and changes in attitudes have not changed as quickly to meet this problem. Another major cause is due to the depletion of the ozone layer which has allowed more cancer-causing rays to affect us directly on earth.
These facts have promulgated various sun safe strategies which are now becoming accepted national health and safety policies in schools and communities. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), CDC, Centers for Disease Control, and other bodies e.g. The Shade Foundation, Sun Safety Alliance are spearheading a new consciousness to America’s youth through sun safe school education and awareness programs on how to protect themselves and reduce their skin cancer risk from solar UV of the sun.
School children are the most vulnerable group to overexposure to the sun due to the amount of time they spend outdoors, especially at the highest risk period of the day, i.e. between 11.00 a.m. – 4 p.m. Outdoor activities include recess, lunch breaks, sporting activities, outdoor and physical education, and other extracurricular activities. It is therefore vital that adults take measures to reduce sun damage and ensure adequate UV protection where possible. Sun protection for kids through education and protection are becoming vital tools as sun safety awareness grows throughout the country. By teaching good habits to children early we can protect future generations from skin cancer. Shade for existing playgrounds, shade for elementary school playgrounds, shade for sports arenas, shade for bleachers, shade for outdoor basketball courts, shade for outdoor volleyball courts, shade for outdoor communal areas etc, will become a more common feature in school grounds as awareness of this need grows.
UV radiation is emitted by the sun, and may increase school children’s risk of skin cancer by excessive over exposure in unprotected outdoor school grounds. Because UV radiation cannot be seen or felt, it poses a challenge to educate the public on its harmful effects.
As the diagram indicates although we cannot see UV radiation it is real and extremely harmful.
Shade4Schools fundraising program is a unique opportunity for schools, churches and communities to play a responsible role in providing shade cover protection from harmful ultraviolet radiation of the sun. Institutions offer the perfect setting to educate children on school sun safety practices as they can be reached in a sustainable way by involving them in sun safe practices. Shade4Schools program assists your school in providing shade structures for outdoor school areas that will help limit UV exposure to children through their school years.
Sun Height – The higher the sun in the sky, the higher the UV level. Maximum levels generally occur when the sun is directly overhead. (solar noon)
Latitude – The closer the equator the higher the UV levels.
Ozone – The ozone layer absorbs some of the UV radiation, however with the mass thinning of this layer we are more at risk from overexposure than ever before.
Altitude – Higher altitude causes less UV radiation filter. UV levels increase by 8% with every 1000 meters higher.
Environment – Different surfaces reflect different percentages of UV, e.g snow 80%, dry beach sand 15%. This is known as indirect UV.