SunAWARE Program a Success

Smiling for the camera are summer interns from the Perkins School for the Blind along with staff from the Children's Melanoma Prevention Foundation, the Boston Harbor Islands Welcome Center and the Department of Conservation and Recreation. (Photo by Scott Eisen)
Smiling for the camera are summer interns from the Perkins School for the Blind along with staff from the Children’s Melanoma Prevention Foundation, the Boston Harbor Islands Welcome Center and the Department of Conservation and Recreation. (Photo by Scott Eisen)

The Children’s Melanoma Prevention Foundation (CMPF), a non-profit educational foundation based in Norwell, was established in 2003 by Hingham resident Maryellen Maguire-Eisen to deliver a comprehensive sun safety and melanoma awareness program, free of charge, to children and their caregivers. The SunAWARE Children’s Program was developed to aggressively focus attention on the need to teach “prevention” or “sun protection.”

This summer the Foundation has been working with the Boston Harbor Islands National and State Park, the Department of Conservation and Recreation and Boston Harbor Now to educate tourists, residents and Island staff about the importance of proper sun protection. The goal of the partner organizations is to promote a lifelong habit of being SunAWARE.

As part of the program, summer interns from the Perkins School for the Blind were trained by CMPF staff to provide tips on sun awareness, distribute complimentary sunscreen and share the daily UV Index with guests visiting Spectacle Island. The students’ participation was part of their in-service program.

The partner organizations recently gathered at the Boston Harbor Islands Welcome Center on Boston’s Rose Kennedy Greenway to distribute complimentary sunscreen (courtesy of Neutrogena), demonstrate the Foundation’s UV camera system, offer sun protection and skin cancer awareness materials and more.

Pictured in the accompanying photo, which was taken at the Welcome Center, are (left to right): Perkins student Amari Butler; Britney Jayne, CMPF; Maura Flynn, CMPF; Tricia Kradolfer, CMPF; Jessica Lenehan, Boston Harbor Islands / Department of Conservation and Recreation; Maryellen Maguire-Eisen, CMPF Executive Director; Erin Presutti, CMPF Assistant Executive Director; Gabi Leyton-Nolan, Department of Conservation and Recreation; and Perkins student Nicholas Claudio.

Maguire-Eisen said, “Having the opportunity to work with the National Park Service to train their staff and to promote proper sun awareness for tourists is an extremely important part of our mission. We teach sun protection because we know that an ounce of prevention is truly worth a pound of cure.”

Statistics show that one in five Americans will develop skin cancer in his/her lifetime, and childhood sunburns are often to blame. While The Foundation works to educate the entire family on proper sun protection, it’s particularly critical information for children as they are often the most vulnerable and have the most to gain from establishing good sun habits at an early age. The ultimate goal is to promote safe outdoor recreation and to reduce skin cancer risk.

Earlier this season, the Foundation conducted two training sessions for more than 50 Island staff members, focusing on proper sun protection for them, including the importance of checking the UV Index, applying sunscreen properly and often, as well as utilizing sun protective clothing.

Each year, more than 100,000 children and adults actively participate in CMPF’s SunAWARE Program provided by trained foundation staff at local schools, sailing clubs, recreation centers, and day care centers – as well as nationally, at health-care conventions.

For more information on the Foundation’s ongoing work, be sure to visit www.melanomaprevention.org.