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Why Sun Protection is Still a Burning Issue for Kids

i May 5th No Comments by

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Different Race childrenA national survey by the Outdoor Kids Sun Safety Code, investigating the provision of sun protection for children who attend outdoor activities, reveals habits still need to change.

Sunburn is dangerous. Just one incidence every two years can triple the risk of melanoma. Despite this, a quarter of those who work outdoors with children admit to a child having sunburn whilst in their care, and a worrying 40% of children still turn up to outdoor sessions without any sun protection whatsoever. Over 60% of those surveyed also admitted to hearing young children discussing ‘getting a tan’.

Over the last 40 years, rates of melanoma in the UK have risen faster than any of the 10 most common cancers, increasing more than five-fold since the mid-1970’s. Although 86% of melanomas are linked to over-exposure to the sun or sunbeds*, 1 in 5 surveyed admitted that they didn’t realise there was a link.

The importance of sunscreen for kids who play sport

Using an SPF30 sunscreen is important in the fight against sunburn, especially as children wear fewer clothes whilst playing sport, don’t tend to wear sunglasses or hats and are outdoors for prolonged periods of time. To be at all effective it needs to be generously applied and reapplied during the day, however less than 20% of respondents admitted to reapplying sunscreen, and over a quarter admitted that they didn’t ask children to do so either.

The Outdoor Kids Sun Safety Code: Supporting those who work outdoors with children

The Outdoor Kids Sun Safety Code was created by the Myfanwy Townsend Melanoma Research Fund and is the only free accredited sun protection initiative for all those who work outdoors with children. Partnered with the Youth Sport Trust, Association for Physical Education (AfPE), Child Protection in Sport Unit and sports coach UK, it is now supported by over 80 national governing bodies of sport (NGBs) and a wide variety of outdoor and coaching organisations.

Take the Two Week Challenge: Turning good intention into action

When signing up to the initiative, outdoor activity leaders can take the ‘Two Week Challenge’ which aims to inspire positive action by creating good habits. Devised by Dr Benjamin Gardner, Senior Lecturer in Psychology and habit formation expert, it is designed to help make sun protection as habitual as brushing teeth twice a day.

Says Dr Gardner: “A major obstacle to implementing sun protection can be habits forged in childhood, which lead to the lack of well-developed routines. My research has shown that after just two weeks, an easy to follow sun protection routine is likely to become second nature, helping those who work with kids to think automatically about protecting the children in their care.”

Casey Stoney, WSL Arsenal and England Football Captain
Ambassador Casey Stoney says: “I spend a lot of time outdoors and admit that in the past, I didn’t use sun protection much. However, as a mum I have become much more aware of the need to protect my child’s skin and in turn my own. Kids look up to their coaches so leading by example is vital. Get out there, have fun but stay safe in the sun.”

New Film Release: Helmet, pads, gum shield…sun protection!A fun but educational film called ‘Blow the Whistle on Sunburn!’ has launched to encourage kids to remember sun protection when they gear up for action this summer. View at http://www.oksunsafetycode.com

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