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.
Sensible sun protection when the UV is 3 and above does not put most people at risk of vitamin D deficiency. However, overexposure to UV radiation from the sun causes permanent 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, 40 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 to reduce children’s and educators’ risk of skin damage and skin cancer. 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 reach at 3 and above on some days.
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 sun protection behaviours
- agrees to undertake three-yearly policy reviews with Cancer Council SA to ensure policy and practice stay up to date with the national standard
SunSmart School members highlight that key benefits include:
- demonstrating their commitment to the health and wellbeing 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
- special offers including 25 per cent discount on sunscreen purchases