With the pressure of getting them out there playing for a day in an organised activity, unfortunately many forget the importance of protecting them from the sun. Although good for us in small doses, the danger comes from unprotected, prolonged exposure to the sun and the incidence of sunburn.
Melanoma is the most deadly type of skin cancer and can be seeded in childhood and sparked by sunburn. It is now the most common cancer in the UK amongst 15 to 34 year olds. More than 13,000 people develop the disease every year compared with around 1,800 in 1975. It’s rising faster than any other cancer, so why in the UK do we treat sun protection as an afterthought?
The Price of a Tan
Our attitude to sun protection can be due to habit. Like smoking in the 50’s and 60’s was glamourised as being the ‘cool thing to do’ a tan was the mark of wealth and beauty in the 70’s and 80’s and to some people it still is today.
Although many people have now wisened up to the importance of sun protection and do not actively sunbathe, kids playing outdoors in summer in the UK for a typical 8 hour session without sun protection are just as vulnerable as they would be sitting on the beach on holiday.
It’s not just a health issue either; tanning will speed up ageing of the skin, making it leathery, mottled, dry and wrinkled in later life; facts worth telling those teenagers who insist on using sunbeds to give them a ‘healthy glow’.
Good habits start young
As it is always easier to adopt good habits in childhood, the Myfanwy Townsend Melanoma Research Fund devised the Outdoor Kids Sun Safety Code which provides specific guidelines for all those who work outdoors with children.
This initiative encourages healthy habits such as ‘leading by example’ and ‘reapplication of SPF30+ after lunch breaks’, showing kids that everyone needs to think about sun protection.
The Outdoor Kids Sun Safety Code is supported by over 80 National Governing Bodies, coaching and outdoor associations all who urge their members to get OK accredited, taking their policies off the page and into positive action.
Giving Kids a Sporting Chance
The Outdoor Kids Sun Safety Code will be launching a short sun protection film on the 5th May called ‘Blow the Whistle on Sunburn! With the help of their supporters and partners, this will be screened in all primary schools across the UK with the aim of educating and changing habits.
Says Chairman of the Myfanwy Townsend Melanoma Research Fund, Harry Townsend “In order to halt the spread of this particularly nasty and largely preventable disease, everyone needs to be more vigilant, especially those responsible for kids who love being outdoors. We should by all means enjoy the sunshine, but remember to enjoy it responsibly and safely!”
If you would like to get involved and join a growing community of groups and associations that work with kids outdoors and really make a difference we would like to speak to you. The revised format for 2015 is simple and easy to implement and as always, this downloadable resource is free.
For further details, please visit www.oksunsafetycode.com or contact Michelle on 07989550146 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.