A NEW report has shown increasing shade structures in Queensland schools would not only reduce skin cancer risk, but also promote increased physical activity.
The Cancer Council research on shade recommendations for early childhood identified shade as a vital means of sun protection that could reduce sun exposure by up to 75 per cent, but also encourage young people to take part in more exercise.
Cancer Council Queensland spokesperson Katie Clift said childhood and adolescence were critical periods for UV radiation exposure and skin cancer risk – so an important time to intercept complacent behavior.
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“Not only do we know that increasing shade structures across Queensland schools would reduce children’s risk of skin cancer, but we now also know that implementing shade structures in early childhood settings promotes increased physical activity,” Ms Clift said.
“Without access to proper shade during school hours, kids are at risk of developing skin cancer – so it’s important all Queensland organisations caring for children have access to items that assist SunSmart behavior and reduce skin cancer risk.
“We also need to work hard to instill SunSmart behaviours in Queensland children to reduce their long-term risk of skin cancer.”
Queensland has the highest rates of skin cancer in the world, and increased sun exposure in childhood contributes significantly to the risk of developing cancer later in life.
In Queensland, around 136,000 new skin cancer cases are diagnosed each year (3000 melanoma and 133,000 non-melanoma skin cancers).
On the Gold Coast, around 462 people are diagnosed with melanoma each year and around 39 people die of the disease.
This month, Cancer Council Queensland is partnering with the Department of Health to call on not-for-profit organisations to take action against skin cancer by applying for the 2014 SunSmart Grants Scheme.
The SunSmart Grants Scheme offers funds for portable and permanent shade items for not-for-profit organisations and schools that cater for children up to age 17.
“These grants will be a big boost to eligible organisations who have limited funds for sun safety,” Ms Clift said.
Early childhood centres, outside school hours care, youth community groups (eg. scouts, girl guides) and primary and secondary schools across Queensland are encouraged to apply.
Applications close at 5pm on February 13, 2015.
To apply for a grant, complete the online application form at www.cancerqld.org.au.