Children, sunburn and sport

David Boxall

7 Oct 2019  |   Michelle Baker

Every summer, thousands of children attend outdoor organised activity during half term and the long school holidays. As well as broadening their skills, getting them outdoors and away from their computers and phones, this provides parents with vital time to work or simply re-calibrate.

As well as providing a healthy packed lunch, water, and suitable clothing, parents also need to ensure they remember the right SPF level of sunscreen. Although this is a vital outdoor kit, it is surprising how many still find it confusing from what to supply, or how to ensure it is used during the day.

Should sunscreen be applied before you all leave or when you arrive at the venue, and what if you forget to bring it? How can you ensure they wear their caps or sunglasses and even apply sunscreen? Will they be asked to sit in the shade for lunch, or return home with a dreaded sunburn?

If this all sounds familiar you are not alone. Michelle Baker, CEO of the Melanoma Fund found herself in this familiar scenario when her son Finlay was 8 years old. Michelle used it as the inspiration for creating the Outdoor Kids Sun Safety Code, a national campaign, launched in 2014. It is now supported by over 120 national governing bodies of sport and overarching outdoor organisations, helping improve the provision of sun protection by all those who work outdoors with children.

Says Michelle; ‘I dropped my son off at a summer tennis camp one morning and politely asked the coach to ensure that he wore his hat and applied sunscreen at lunch. I was then provided with lots of reasons why they could not be responsible for that. There was the issue of touching children, allergies and time restraints and so many other excuses that I felt awkward pursuing it.

When I picked my son up, he indeed had a mild sunburn as predictable he hadn’t applied sunscreen, and as well as feeling frustrated and powerless, I felt determined that this was just not right. I discovered that there was no regulation in sport for sun protecting children and no official guidelines for those who work with children outdoors. Things had to change.”

Why parents should take action

Skin cancer is a global epidemic and it’s not going away. It is the fastest-growing cancer in the world and although many feel it’s ‘only skin cancer’ or it can ‘simply be cut out’, this is far from the truth. It only takes one sunburn in childhood to double the risk of melanoma in later life and who wants to subject our children’s skin to that risk, even once?

We can forget to apply sun protection when out and about in the UK or be led to think that our sun is not hot enough to do lasting damage (which is incorrect). As adults we have been programmed to believe that sunscreen is generally used only when on holidays abroad, however when children are out all day playing sport, such as cricket, athletics, football, golf or tennis, there is very often little shade and lots of reflective surfaces. This means they are right on the front line for UV damage for an entire day, which is very similar to being at the beach.

Getting parents working together with coaches and following the guidelines of the Outdoor Kids Sun Safety Code is a simple but effective way of helping everyone in sport, especially children with delicate skin, avoid sunburn and also develop good habits that will lower their risk of skin cancer in later years.

How it works

The Outdoor Kids Sun Safety Code is designed to support groups, clubs and individuals, offering up-to-date, professional guidelines, template policies, downloadable materials and an accreditation scheme to keep action consistent throughout summer. The campaign offers five 5 vital rules for anyone who works outdoor with children:

PREPARE: Ensure that everyone arrives ready for a day in the sun

PROTECT: Use clothing, hats/sunglasses and sunscreen (SPF30+) reapplied at breaks

SHADE: Avoid direct sunlight during lunch or whilst spectating others

HYDRATE: Ensure water is always available

LEAD BY EXAMPLE: Inspire children with your own actions

Julia Newton Bishop, Professor of Dermatology at the University of Leeds says; “DNA damage can be caused by repeated overexposure to UV light. Although sun exposure is important for health – it is how we make vitamin D – sunburn increases our risk of skin cancer so ensure children are protected, especially when out for prolonged periods, and educated on the risks by adults who lead by example.”

If you are a parent of a sporty outdoor child, pass this information onto their outdoor activity supplier, and ensure you are helping do all you can to keep their skin healthy for years to come.


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Mumsnet Guest Campaign – July 2019

David Boxall

21 Jul 2019   |   Michelle Baker

Bravo Mumsnet for taking sun protection seriously, featuring the Outdoor Kids Sun Safety Code as their Guest Campaign, helping us raise awareness to thousands of parents.

Mumsnet is a website for parents in the UK. It hosts discussion forums where users share advice and information on parenting and many other topics. It has an Influencers’ network with over 10,000 bloggers, vloggers and social media influencers and reaches out to the heart of the parenting hub.

The Melanoma Fund is delighted that the Outdoor Kids Sun Safety Code has been selected as their guest campaign for July. With the school summer holidays almost upon us, working parents especially will be busy booking up summer activity camps, helping them find vital time to work as the long weeks, out of school, stretch out.

Sunburn risks

Whilst getting children playing outdoors all day is healthy, it is worth sparing a thought on the issue of sun protection. How do you know that your child will be using hats and reapplying sunscreen whilst out of your care, and how can you ensure they do not return home with sunburn? Does your provider have an effective sun protection policy in place and is it used?

With skin cancer rates rising rapidly, and childhood sunburn attributed to doubling the incidence of melanoma, the most dangerous form of skin cancer, in adulthood, this is a topic we all need to take seriously.

The Outdoor Kids Sun Safety Code, an initiative designed to create peace of mind for parents who take sun protection seriously. It support all those who work outdoors with children, helping ensure that their provision of sun protection is up-to-date and 100% effective.

Support

Campaign partners, the Youth Sport Trust, Association for Physical Education (AfPE), Child Protection in Sport Unit (NSPCC) and UK Coaching have worked with the Melanoma Fund, the charity behind the campaign, to ensure the advice is relevant to sport and outdoor activity.

Over 100 national governing bodies of sport and major outdoor organisations actively support the campaign, proving the UK is finally taking this vital form of safeguarding to heart. The resource offers professional guidelines, template policies, downloadable materials and an accreditation scheme to keep action consistent throughout summer.

The OK Code encourages all outdoor activity leaders to follow these five rules:

  1. PREPARE: Ensure that everyone arrives ready for a day in the sun
  2. PROTECT: With clothing, hats/sunglasses and sunscreen (SPF30+) reapplied at breaks
  3. SHADE: Avoid direct sunlight during lunch or whilst spectating others
  4. HYDRATE: Ensure water is always available
  5. LEAD BY EXAMPLE: Inspire children with your own actions

Julia Newton-Bishop, Professor of Dermatology at the University of Leeds says; “Children’s skin is more sensitive than adults and DNA damage can be caused by repeated overexposure to UV light. Although sun exposure is important for health – it is how we make vitamin D – sunburn increases our risk of skin cancer so ensure they’re protected, especially when out for prolonged periods, and educated on the risks by adults who lead by example.”

Share with your provider

If you are a parent, please ensure your child’s activity provider is signed up to the Outdoor Kids Sun Safety Code, and if you are an organisation or individual that works outdoors with children, sign up today at www.oksunsafetycode.com/signup. By being vigilant and working together we can blow the whistle on sunburn! Visit www.oksunsafetycode.com for further details.


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All4KidsUK - Sun-protecting children this summer

David Boxall

21 Jul 2019  |   Michelle Baker

All4KidsUK is of the UK’s leading activity directories and proud supporters of the Outdoor Kids Sun Safety Code.

With the school summer holidays almost upon us, parents will be busy booking their young ones into summer activity camps, from cricket, tennis, football to mountaineering, the choice is now expansive, helping them find the time to work, as the long weeks stretch out.

Whilst getting children playing outdoors all day is healthy, it is worth sparing a thought on the issue of sun protection. How do you know that your child will be using their hats and reapplying sunscreen whilst out of your care, and how can you ensure they do not return home with sunburn?

With skin cancer rates rising rapidly, and childhood sunburn attributed to doubling the incidence of melanoma, the most dangerous form of skin cancer, in adulthood, this is a topic we all need to take seriously.

The good news, is that help is at hand!

All4KidsUK now supports the Outdoor Kids Sun Safety Code, an initiative designed to support all those who work outdoors with children, helping ensure that their provision of sun protection is up-to-date and 100% effective.

Visit All4KidsUK

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