Sunscreen Safari teaches children importance of sun protection

The Blount Memorial Cancer Center offers a program for kids in pre-school through second grade to learn more about the importance of sun protection. Safari Sam and his friends are designed to raise awareness and promote a happy, healthy summer by remembering to wear hats and sunglasses, use sunscreen and play in the shade.

“Since the Spring, we have taken more than 500 kids on a safari and educated them about the importance of sun safety,” said Randy Carr of the Blount Memorial Cancer Center.

Sun safety is an important message for kids to hear early on, as Carr emphasizes that people receive most of their lifetime sun exposure before the age of 18.

“We have been told that one of the children participating in our program went home and told his grandmother, ‘Remember, you need to put on sunscreen before you go outside,’ so the kids really are embracing the information they learn,” Carr says.

Education is key, as the more children are exposed to the sun, the greater their chances of permanent skin damage and even skin cancer. “Melanoma is the second leading cancer in children,” Carr says.

For more information about scheduling the free sun safety program to a pre-school or early elementary group you’re involved with, call the Blount Memorial radiation oncology department at 865-977-5534.

When going out in the sun:

Apply sunscreens with an SPF (sun protection factor) of 30+ with UVA/UVB, even on cloudy days.

Apply a thick coat of sunscreen to the body, including on ears, nose, lips and the tops of feet, 20-30 minutes before going outside.

Re-apply regularly every two hours and/or after sweating or swimming.

The strongest sun occurs between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.

Wear protective clothing, including a hat.

Wear sunglasses that block as close to 100 percent of UVA and UVB rays as possible.

Play in the shade.

Children from East Maryville Baptist Church Daycare spent the afternoon at the Blount Memorial Cancer Center learning about sun protection and being safe while playing in the outside. Leslie Karnowski was on hand and got these images.

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