Every primary school in the Liverpool postcode area is signing up to is signing up to a scheme aimed at preventing young people from the risks of getting skin cancer later in life.
The number of cases in Liverpool have more than doubled since 2001 – up from 47 to 99 – and figures from 2014 show there were 14 deaths in the city.
Sun exposure in the first 15 years of life contributes significantly to the lifetime risk of skin cancer. Young people spend almost half their childhood at school and are often outdoors during peak UV hours from 11am-3pm.
Now Public Health Liverpool has teamed up with national charity Skcin to implement its Sun Safe Schools scheme in primary schools in the city.
All schools commit to the comprehensive use of sunscreen, sun hats and role models to promote their use as well as providing shady areas outdoors and lessons on staying safe in the sun.
Green Park School in Maghull has become the latest school to become accredited, with pupils taking part in a Sun Safe assembly and showing off their sunhats.
Dr Sandra Davies, Director of Public Health in Liverpool, said: “It is really important that young people get into the habit of protecting themselves when they are out in the sun because their skin is very sensitive but the consequences of getting burned may not become apparent for many years.
“We know that people are aware of the importance of putting on sun cream when we go on holiday or to the beach, but studies show that we don’t necessarily do it when going about our daily routine, and for children this is when they his is when they are playing out at the hottest time of the day in the playground.
“We are hoping that by working closely with schools we can make sure that young people get into the correct routine which they will continue through their lives, as well as spreading the message of being sun safe to the rest of their family.”
Marie Tudor from Skcin said: “Skcin works tirelessly to provide practical sun safety and skin cancer prevention solutions to the community to aid knowledge about this shocking disease.
“Skcin has pioneered educational intervention and the Sun Safe Schools accreditation we have enjoyed great success for four years.
“We see this particular “at risk” group is where we can have the greatest impact with educating our youngsters from a young age.
“Skcin now have over 3500 schools signed up. It is our aim to get as many schools signed up as possible and get the important topic included in the national curriculum The Accreditation has been operating for four years and we have had amazing success since its launch the testimonials speak for themselves.
“By planting the seeds of sun safety at a young age together we can help educate and change behaviours and ultimately save lives.
“Education is the key to tackling the rising statistics and Skcin are delighted Liverpool City Council are supporting our Sun Safe Schools Accreditation and its nationwide roll out.”
Schools in Liverpool are a particular target the charity as the area has one of the highest incidence rates of skin cancer in the UK.
The accreditation helps schools to fulfil their duty of care to implement a sun safe policy. A total of 86 percent of skin cancers are caused by overexposure to UV and are therefore preventable.
For Liverpool this campaign has an extra incentive as Skcin have partnered with local charity, the Clare Daly Foundation to provide sun cream and dispensers to the first 30 schools to renew and/or complete the accreditation in May. The charity has funded this for the benefit of Liverpool Primary Schools. The charity was set up by the family for Clare Daly who sadly lost her life to melanoma aged just 29.
Primary schools can register to gain their accreditation at: www.sunsafeschools.co.uk and a competition to win free sun cream for schools is on offer until 30 June.
Almost nine out of ten skin cancers can be prevented by:
• Avoiding over exposure to the sun
• Avoiding burning of the skin (red to blistering)
• Avoiding sun bed use
• Covering up using clothes, hats and sunglasses
• Seeking shade at the hottest parts of the day (11am-3pm)
• Using sunscreen – SPF 30+ for both adults and children