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"My fervent hope is that all sailors and boaters, especially juniors, will embrace the steps in SunAWARE and practice them on a daily basis, both on and off the water."

Susan Epstein



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SunAWARE at SEA Pilot Program

This winter the Children's Melanoma Prevention Foundation joined forces with US SAILING US Sailing to promote sun protection education for sailors through the foundation's SunAWARE at Sea Program.

In January 2011, foundation staff were invited to teach at the National Sailing Program Symposium in Clearwater, Florida. The foundation's objective was to raise awareness about the heightened risk of skin cancer for boaters and to introduce the SunAWARE program. This program will be tailored to meet the needs of the US SAILING community to provide instruction in sun safety to its junior sailors. SunAWARE at SEA will be launched on Don't Fry Day, an annual event sponsored by the National Council for Skin Cancer Prevention. Don't Fry Day is held on the Friday before Memorial Day with the participation of member organizations nationally.

Danger at Graves Light

This year, the Children's Melanoma Prevention Foundation has created special materials for the event including a Don't Fry Day educational flier and a children's book entitled, Danger at Graves Light. The book has been endorsed by US SAILING and features a personal introduction by Susan Epstein, US SAILING Director. Since traditionally junior sailing programs begin in June a special SunAWARE at Sea flier has been created for use by recreational boating centers throughout the season. Foundation staff will be available to teach at sailing centers throughout New England during the sailing season.

Since its inception in 2003, the Children's Melanoma Prevention Foundation has reached over 250,000 children with its SunAWARE message. In addition, foundation staff have lectured extensively to national audiences on skin cancer prevention and early detection. The foundation has partnered with national organizations to promote skin cancer prevention and further its mission.

The Children's Melanoma Prevention Foundation is keenly aware of the heightened risk of skin cancer for recreational boaters due to the reflection of the sun off the water. Nationally, one person dies every hour from skin cancer and melanoma is responsible for 75% of these deaths. In addition, melanoma rates are increasing in children with one study reporting a 3% increase annually from 1973 to 2001. This increase, combined with the fact that melanoma is associated with both childhood sunburns and recreational boating, underscores the need for children interested in sailing to be educated and vigilant about protecting their skin from the sun.

The SunAWARE at Sea Program provides sailors with five easy action steps for prevention and early detection of skin cancer. These steps are based on scientifically proven methods known to prevent skin cancer and to promote early detection.

SunAWARE Action Steps

Avoid unprotected exposure to sunlight, seek shade, and never indoor tan.

Wear sun protective clothing, including a long-sleeved shirt, pants, a wide-brimmed hat, and sunglasses year-round.

Apply recommended amounts of broad-spectrum sunscreen with a sunburn protection factor (SPF) ≥ 30 to all exposed skin and reapply every two hours, or as needed.

Routinely examine your whole body for changes in your skin and report suspicious changes to a parent or healthcare provider.

Educate your family and community about the need to be SunAWARE.

"Every junior sailor knows that they have to be able to swim, wear a personal floatation device, and stay calm in an emergency. However, what they don't know is how to prevent skin cancer. I have been a life-long sailor and I have seen first-hand the impact of the sun, having lost a close friend to melanoma.

My fervent hope is that all sailors and boaters, especially juniors, will embrace the steps in SunAWARE and practice them on a daily basis, both on and off the water." (Susan Epstein, US SAILING)