Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States. Medical studies have shown that just one or two severe sunburns in childhood or early adulthood doubles the chance of developing skin cancer later in life. To combat this, the Ray Festa Melanoma Foundation has partnered with the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA) to launch Team Sunsmart, a program that promotes the use of sunscreen by student athletes.
This May, the partnership will push out Team SunSmart’s message in order to engage athletic trainers to help educate their students on the importance of wearing sunscreen. The program will distribute information and posters to athletes in New Jersey. Each athlete will get information cards and posters detailing the dangers of severe sun exposure at a young age. Booster clubs for local teams will be encouraged to support the effort by offering sunscreen to athletes on their teams.
Studies have shown that coaches can play a large role in motivating sunscreen use among athletes. In Essex County, the athletic departments at 15 high schools have already joined Team Sunsmart, including Montclair High School, Immaculate Conception High School, Montclair Kimberley Academy, Lacordaire Academy, St. Cassian’s High School, Cedar Grove High School, Verona High School, Glen Ridge High School, West Essex Regional High School, Bloomfield High School, Mount St. Dominic Academy, James Caldwell High School, Nutley High School, Clifton High School, and Passaic Valley High School.
According to the Ray Festa Melanoma Foundation, some scientists estimate that a young person who wears sunscreen every day will cut their risk of developing skin cancer by as much as 70% as an adult. Team Sunsmart ‘s goal is to make the application of sunscreen a normal pre-game routine and a bottle of sunscreen as much a part of an athlete's equipment bag as a sports drink.
Learn more about Team Sunsmart at http://rayfesta.org/melanoma-programs/teamsunsmart.html.