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Sun safety program for younger kids gets shining results

Sun safety program for younger kids gets shining results

LAS VEGAS—A nurse-run program for Florida school children has been tremendously successful in teaching them how to protect their skin when in the sun, Victoria Chambers, RN, OCN, reported at the 32nd Annual Congress of the Oncology Nursing Society (abstract 2006).

"We wanted to do a community service project, and decided to take on young children—elementary school age and younger," Ms. Chambers told Oncology NEWS International in an interview.

Using funds procured from a foundation, she and her colleagues at the Florida Hospital Cancer Institute in Orlando developed a school-based education program—titled "Safe Sun Safari"—to teach and reinforce practices that reduce the risk of skin cancer by decreasing sun exposure. Their aim was to reach 100 children every month.

The central component of the program is an interactive, 15-minute play that is put on at elementary schools, after-school program settings, and daycare centers.

The play includes dialog, songs, and a game that incorporate sun-safe messages, such as the "slip, slop, slap" message of the American Cancer Society (slip on a shirt, slop on sunscreen, slap on a hat).

The cast has four charismatic characters who wear bright, colorful costumes: the Sun, who mainly shines on her fellow characters; Alex the Grape, who likes to sunbathe without sunscreen; Moondoggy, the story teller, a California-cool dude who always wears sunscreen, sunglasses, and a hat; and Randi the Raisin, who has been burned by the sun and therefore urges Alex the Grape to use sun safe practices (see photographs).

"The children are just in awe of these characters, even so much so that at the end of the show, they want their autographs," Ms. Chambers commented.

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