Being SunSmart means a balance between sun protection to lower the risk of skin cancer and sun exposure for the production and maintenance of vitamin D. Ultraviolet (UV) radiation is both the major cause of skin cancer and the best natural source of vitamin D. Vitamin D is essential for the development of strong bones and muscles.
Overexposure to UV radiation from the sun causes skin damage, with childhood and adolescence being critical times when this exposure is more likely to contribute to skin cancer later in life. Children are at school five days each week, forty weeks each year during the peak UV radiation times. This means it is essential for schools to not only have practices in place to protect students in their care but also to educate and role model the importance of sun protection.
SunSmart Schools Program
A SunSmart School has a policy and practices in place that recognises the balance between sun protection to reduce the risk of skin damage and sun exposure for vitamin D production. Cancer Council SA recommends implementing a sun protection policy during terms 1, 3 and 4 and depending on school activities, monitoring the UV radiation levels during May (term 2) as UV levels may still peak at 3 and above on some days.
All schools should develop and implement a comprehensive sun protection policy that not only protects the students and staff in their care from overexposure to UV radiation but also meets their duty of care for students and WH&S obligations for staff.
A SunSmart School is one that:
- has a comprehensive sun protection policy that meets a minimum national standard covering the areas of curriculum, behaviour and the environment
- provides, or is working towards, adequate shade facilities
- ensures children and staff are well-protected when the UV radiation level is 3 and above, particularly during peak UV times of the day
- teaches, role models and reinforces positive skin protection behaviours
- agrees to undertake policy reviews with Cancer Council SA to ensure policy and practice stay up to date with the national standard.
SunSmart School members highlight the benefits of being a part of the program as:
- demonstrating their commitment to the health and well-being of their students through signage and Cancer Council SA endorsement of their policy and practice
- better awareness and support of sun protection strategies in school community
- free teaching resources
- keeping up to date with the latest information and recommended practice