Sun Safety for School and Sport
Evidence suggests that childhood exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation contributes significantly to the development of skin cancer in later life.
Students are in school when daily UV radiation levels are at their peak meaning schools are uniquely placed to educate about sun protection behaviour, minimise UVR exposure and ultimately reduce a student’s lifetime risk of skin cancer.
Playing sport can also mean long hours spent outdoors training and competing which is why sporting organisations and clubs should take steps to make sure players, coaches and staff, and spectators are protected from UV damage.
The information provided below includes resources for schools and sporting organisations to support Australian children to be SunSmart.
SunSmart Schools program
All Australian primary schools are encouraged to join the nationally recognised SunSmart Schools program.
The Cancer Council launched the National SunSmart Schools program in 1998. Today it is offered to all primary schools nationwide, and is also offered to K-10/12, secondary and special schools in some states.
In order to receive SunSmart status and recognition, primary schools must:
- have a written sun protection policy meeting minimum standards relating to curriculum, behaviour and the environment
- be working to increase shade
- reschedule/minimise outdoor activities during peak UV periods of the year
- teach, model and reinforce positive sun protection behaviour
- agree to undertake periodic policy reviews with its state or territory Cancer Council and update their policy accordingly to meet SunSmart standards.
Primary School Resources
The Cancer Council has range of resources for primary schools including the Generation SunSmart website for students and educators to learn about skin cancer, being SunSmart, and how to incorporate sun protection strategies into day to day activities.
There is also lyrics, sheet music and activities for the SunSmart Countdown Song, a song called Skin (by Alan Caswell) and Sid the Seagull reminds us of the five sun protection steps.
Secondary School Resources
Real Stories is a suite of SunSmart resources by the Cancer Council designed for secondary school students in years 7-10. The resources address the risks associated with exposure to UV radiation and encourages students to think about sun safe practices.
Resources include videos, worksheets and classroom activities that cover health topics associated with sun safety. Lesson topics include 'How far for beauty?', 'Marketing health messages', 'Dangers of a deadly tan', 'Skin cancer - who's at risk' and many more.
Develop a UV policy for your sport
Develop a UV policy for your sporting organisation and make sure all members are aware of the need to protect their skin while being active outdoors.
A good UV policy should:
- provide or encourage participants and officials to wear sun protective clothing as part of the team uniform and during training sessions by covering as much skin as possible
- promote the use of SPF30 (or higher) broad-spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen. If possible, consider having a supply on site
- promote use of the sun protection times by adding the SunSmart widget or a link to MyUV on the club's website and encouraging use of the free SunSmart app
- schedule training times, competitions and outdoor events outside the daily sun protection times when possible – especially those normally scheduled for the middle of the day
- promote sun protection habits/practices during the course of the event or game - download the Sun Sound Jingle
- plan and provide shade and encourage players and spectators to take advantage of shade from buildings and trees - conduct a shade audit
- encourage players and spectators to come to events with sunscreen, clothing, shade, hats and sunglasses - even at the snow!
- encourage club ‘sports stars', coaches and club officials to be sun protection role models.
To review your current policies and practices, or to assist with the development of a new policies you can download the UV exposure and heat illness checklist.