Skin cancer is the most common cancer in Canada and is highly preventable. Childhood exposure to UV Radiation (UVR) contributes to the development of skin cancer in later life. Children potentially have a greater risk to sun exposure compared to adults, since children have thinner and more sensitive skin. Children’s eyes also have a lower capability to filter UV radiation.
Schools can play a major role in minimizing student exposure to UVR (the highest risk is between 11 am and 3 pm) and in both establishing and maintaining sun safety habits for a lifetime.
Using the Ministry of Education’s Foundations for a Healthy School framework, schools, school boards, parents and community partners can work together to develop healthy school environments that promote and support student well-being. Information below has been organized following this framework.
Curriculum, Teaching and Learning
Sun Safe Play Every Day (Grades JK – 3)
A four-minute, sing-along video created by the Canadian Dermatology Association about a young boy and his dog talking about the sun, and the many ways we can play safely in the sun.
SunSense Teaching Guides (Grades 1-6)
The SunSense program by the Canadian Cancer Society offers a full certification program for schools to create sun safe environments. Individual program resources such as parent letters, fact sheets and teaching guides are available to download.
Dear 16-Year-old Me (Grades 9 – 11)
This short five-minute video created by David Cornfield Melanoma Fund, highlights the dangers of melanoma for young people. Previewing is recommended.
Sun Safety for Sun and Indoor Tanning Handout (Grades 9 – 12)
Tanning beds are another significant source of UVR. Using a tanning bed before the age of 35 increases the risk of developing melanoma (the deadliest form of skin cancer) by 59 percent. The fact sheet linked above can help inform youth of the risk of using tanning beds.
School and Classroom Leadership
This resource takes you through the step-by-step process of developing and implementing a SunSense policy for your school.
The link above can support students in planning a school wide campaign to celebrate National Sun Awareness Week.
Social and Physical Environments
The guide linked above provides information about how to complete a shade audit and plan for shade on your school grounds. An effective sun safety school culture provides the opportunity for staff and students to enjoy the many benefits of outdoor play and physical activity while offering protection from UVR.
Home, School and Community Partnerships
Share information and resources with parents from the following websites: