Safe fun in the sun on school sports day

safe sun 2Grange Park Primary School provided a backdrop for the Public Health Agency (PHA) and Cancer Focus Northern Ireland to remind parents to ensure that their children are protected from the sun on school sports day.

Primary 5 pupils, assisted by Sport Northern Ireland’s Activ8 Wildcats Mascots ‘TWIST AND BOUNCE’ took part in a workshop on “Sun Safe” behaviour to prepare them for school sports day and other outdoor activities during the summer months.

The unpredictability of Northern Ireland summers can lead to the public thinking that they will not get sunburn in such a changeable climate.  However, the majority of the population have fair skin, which provides little protection against the sun, so even a small amount of sun can do damage.

Dr Miriam McCarthy, Consultant in Public Health Medicine, PHA, said: “Being active and having fun outside is good for health, but parents need to be aware that the sun can cause permanent damage to children’s delicate skin.  One episode of sunburn, especially in childhood, doubles the lifetime risk of malignant melanoma, the most serious form of skin cancer.”

During schools sports day when children can spend the majority of the day outside, they are exposed to ultraviolet (UV) radiation which can cause serious damage over time. It is important for everyone, but particularly children, to avoid getting sunburned. UV radiation from the sun can cause skin damage, even on cloudy days.

Marbeth Ferguson, Skin Cancer Prevention Co-ordinator, Cancer Focus, said: “At the “Sun Safe” workshop we teach children why and how we protect our skin from the harmful effects of the sun. The children learn how to keep their skin healthy in the sun by playing in the shade between 11am and 3pm, covering up with a T-shirt, sunglasses and hat, and applying high protection sunscreen to exposed skin.”

John News, Acting Director of Participation at Sport Northern Ireland said: “Through our Activ8 programme, Sport Northern Ireland aims to increase children’s understanding of the need to be active for at least 60 minutes every day, and there’s nothing children enjoy more than playing outside or kicking a football. However, it is important that children also understand the importance of being smart in the sun. By following the PHA and Cancer Focus’ advice children will be able to enjoy the benefits of healthier, more active and happier lifestyles in a safe way.”

Thanks to the workshop, Grange Park Primary School will have a sun safe school sports day by ensuring the children participating avoid the sun when at its strongest, remembering to regularly apply sun screen and cover up. For further information on how you can have safe fun in the sun click on www.careinthesun.org

If you are concerned about skin cancer you can also call the Cancer Focus free information and support helpline on 0800 783 3339 or email one of the charity’s nurses on  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

 

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