Educate Students & Staff
This is an H3
Sun protection education is most effective when the instruction is comprised of several units, conducted over multiple class meetings, and contains content built upon well-established principles of education and behavior change.1
Research shows that people get about 25% of their lifetime UV damage by the time they turn 182 so it is important to teach students to protect themselves against sun exposure when they are young. However, cumulative lifetime sun exposure is a skin cancer risk factor for adults as well, so teaching students sun safety skills can help staff make healthy decisions later in life, too.
Children as young as three can learn to use shade, cover-up clothing, hats, sunglasses and sunscreen. Older children and teenagers can strengthen their media literacy skills and learn to resist peer pressure to tan. Teachers can protect themselves and serve as role models for students. Check out the educational materials that have been created by Sun Safe Colorado to use with students and younger children.
Try the following ideas to promote and support a sun safe school environment:
- Each year, designate several hours of classroom instruction to sun safety
- Use lesson plans and curricula that teach sun safety along with teaching standards
- Teach students about sun safety and reinforce school policies through classroom instruction
- Incorporate sun safety education into non-traditional educational environments such as waiting in line for school health screenings and school pictures
Try the following ideas to incorporate sun safety into lesson plans:
- Include a sun safety component in health or science class
- Integrate sun safety into lesson plans for all core subjects
- Teach a comprehensive skin cancer prevention curriculum
- Include skin cancer prevention in school health fairs
- Invite a local dermatologist to speak to the class
- Check the UV Index with students before going outdoors
Teachers can incorporate sun safety into science, health, physical education, or consumer studies instruction. Check out the teaching materials and sun safety programs for more ideas for teaching students about sun safety.
Many staff and teachers, especially P. E. teachers and coaches, are outdoor workers. As outdoor workers, they are another important audience for sun safety education. Consider quick and easy pre-service and in-service training.
Incorporating sun safety into staff development doesn’t have to take a lot of planning or extra time. Even a ten-minute reminder once a year lets staff know what they are responsible for, how to be good role models for students, and that the district cares about their health.
Try the following ideas:
- Include the Sun Safe Colorado tip sheet in new employee orientation packets and on the employee section of your district website
- Present the Sun Safe Colorado Staff Training at new employee orientation or annual staff meetings
- Every May, encourage staff to promote Skin Cancer Awareness Month activities
- Provide sun safety information at health screenings and clinics
Take Note!Skin Cancer may be a risk management issue for some workplaces, especially those with outdoor workers. Across the nation there have been some Workers’ Compensation settlements related to sun exposure while at work.
Whether your district is concerned about Workers’ Compensation, other types of liability, or health care costs, educating your employees is essential. Teaching them about risks associated with sun exposure and ways they can protect themselves from UV rays makes sense. Be proactive with your employees.
1Buller DB, Borland R. Health Edu Behav.1999 Jun; 26(3):317-43.
2Godar, DE. Photochem and Photobiol. 2003;77(4): 453-457.