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The United States Environmental Protection Agency's SunWise Program is a free sun safety education program that provides a tool kit to any K-8 school in the U.S. that registers. The activities are cross-curricular and standards based and cover the science behind stratospheric ozone and ultraviolet radiation, health effects from overexposure, and simple steps that people can take to protect themselves.

The SunWise School Program is an environmental and health education program that aims to teach children and their caregivers how to protect themselves from overexposure to the sun. This is imperative, given that skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the U.S., with one in five Americans developing skin cancer in their lifetime. One American
dies every hour from skin cancer.

SunWise Partner Schools sponsor classroom, school, and community activities that raise children's awareness of stratospheric ozone depletion, UV radiation, and simple sun safety practices, and ultimately lead to sustained sun-safe behaviors.

  » Completed pilot phase of program in May 2000 in 150 schools in 38 states, reaching over 10,000 students. The program was launched nationally on May 15, 2000 and is open to all elementary and middle schools in the United States.
  » Current enrollment is over 9,200 schools spread across every U.S. state, D.C. and Puerto Rico, with a steady flow of new registrations. The goal is to be in 20% of K-8 schools (17,000) by 2005.
  » Registered schools receive, free of charge, a SunWise Tool Kit with standards based, cross-curricular classroom activities for grades K-8; a UV sensitive frisbee for hands-on experiments and fun; story and activity books; poster; video; policy guidance, and more.
  » The SunWise website has an online interactive database where students report actual UV measurements taken daily with hand-held UV meters, and compare them with UV Index forecast data for their unique zipcode. The UV Index, a cornerstone of the SunWise Program, is available at the SunWise website in a zipcode searchable format for the entire United States. The website also has a kids' page with educational activities.
  » SunWise recognizes a particular challenge in measuring the effectiveness of its effort to create sustained SunWise behavior, especially given the latency period associated with the onset of UV-related health effects. Are using interim measurements, including student, parent, teacher and administrator surveys, to evaluate program effectiveness. Evaluation findings from Boston University for over 8,000 SunWise students show the estimated one-hour teaching program resulted in marked improvements in children's knowledge, improved attitudes and beliefs about tanning, and intentions to play in the shade promoted.
  » SunWise is expanding to informal educational venues (science and children's museums) and sporting events (major league soccer and baseball) to reinforce sun safety messages.
  » SunWise partners with a number of non-profit skin cancer education organizations (Curt and Shonda Schilling Shade Foundation, Arizona; Skin Cancer Awareness Foundation, Nevada; Sun Protection Foundation, Massachusetts; etc.) to get SunWise into schools with additional direct support from the organizations in the form of shade structures, hats, sunscreen, and volunteers.
  » As a service to the public, new and revised print brochures and booklets on UV radiation, ozone depletion, health effects, and sun safety are available for mass distribution and by request (generally in quantities requested). An electronic library of these materials is also available on the SunWise website. Over 150,000 fact sheets and brochures were mailed to the public in 2003 alone.
  » SunWise publishes a program update, The SunWise Monitor, to inform participating schools and communities about the progress of the Program and important sun protection issues.
  » SunWise was awarded the 1999 Excellence in Education Award by the American Academy of Dermatology in March 2000. AAD established the award to recognize groups, organizations, or institutions that have developed an educational program or programs that have contributed uniquely to educational excellence in the specialty of dermatology. SunWise received the Federal Council on Skin Cancer Prevention's Annual Achievement Award in 2002 for outstanding skin cancer prevention efforts by a federal agency. SunWise received the Excellence in Cancer Awareness award from the Cancer Research and Prevention Foundation in 2003.

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