Kindergartners fight skin cancer the fun way

Summer break has already started for a lot of students and it's almost here for others, which means more time for fun in the sun.

M.D. Anderson Cancer Center is teaming up with local schools to offer them a unique program about sun safety. We got to meet up with young learners, involved in the most comprehensive health initiative in the country, which focuses on cancer prevention and control.    

Kindergartners at BP Hopper Primary in Goose Creek CISD are learning life lessons from "Ray and the Sunbeatables".

The fun program, courtesy of "Be Well Baytown" came to life, after ExxonMobil donated $10 million to the project and it's all part of MD Anderson's Moon Shots program.

Five big super heroes have five very strong super powers, including:  Serena's sunscreen, Hannah's hat, Chloe's protective clothing, Stephan's sunglasses, and the last super power is shade!

Studies show that this valuable information, taught in a fun way, does impact young lives. The students really seem to "get it".

"You should always wear sunscreen, a wide-brimmed hat, play in the shade, and have safe clothing," says one student. 

Students are not only learning how to protect their skin, they're teaching others about it!

"They are really applying what they are learning.  One parent the other day said my daughter, my kindergarten student, came home teaching my older daughter about sun safety, so they are really learning," says Maria Rosas, the Principal of BP Hopper Primary.  

Throughout this fun program, students make their own super hero capes. They made sun-safe hats by placing newspaper on their heads, then placed duct tape around it. The students had a lot of fun making their own wide-brimmed hats to protect their head, face, ears, and neck.

Plus, they wear cool shades to help protect their eyes.  Finally, they get to sport their new looks in a fashion show their Superintendent, who had to undergo treatment for melanoma, sure is impressed.

"As a survivor, had I known some of these things, I may have prevented skin cancer myself.  I was actually a lifeguard and had no concept of sun protection in my era, but I think these kids are learning early and taking precautionary measures," says Randal O'Brien, the Superintendent of Goose Creek CISD.  "The presentation was a good one today and was one good example of how our teachers engage with our students with everything they need to know instructionally, but also with their lives, going away from the school building as well," he adds.        

"We know that about 50% of cancers are preventable, so if we can put evidence-based actions into practice, like teaching Ray & The Sunbeatables curriculum to our students, we can have a major impact on reducing the rates of cancer," says Ruth Rechis, the Director of Be Well Communities at MD Anderson.  

"They're kindergartners, and they say we learn everything we need to know about life in kindergarten so we're hoping that the message does resonate with them and they carry it on with them into their teens and adult life," smiles O'Brien. 

This wasn't just a one day program. They've talked about sun safety every day for at least 10 minutes each day since February.

This summer, as part of the program, their playground will get two huge sunshades to also help protect their skin. 

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