AUGUSTA – Three schools in Oxford County were recently awarded $500 each by the Maine Comprehensive Cancer Control Program to raise awareness of the importance of sun safety. Recipients are Hartford-Sumner Elementary School, New Suncook Elementary School in Fryeburg and South Hiram Elementary School.

The schools will focus their efforts on educating students, faculty and staff on sun protection behavior, including wearing protective clothing (pants, long-sleeved shirts, hats, sunglasses), applying sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher, and seeking shade when outdoors.

The money can be used for special event days, incorporating skin cancer prevention education into comprehensive school health education, creating educational materials, purchasing and building shade structures (trees, awnings, etc.) for the school campus, and/or providing faculty and staff training.

While many believe that skin cancer is not a problem in Maine, data show that the number of new cases of melanoma (the deadliest form of skin cancer) has tripled since the mid-1990s, making it the fastest growing cancer diagnosis in Maine. Because children get between 50 and 80 percent of their lifetime sun exposure before age 18, it is important to educate kids, their parents and their teachers about skin cancer.

There are four easy steps to prevent skin cancer: slip on a shirt, slop on sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher, slap on a hat, wrap on sunglasses.

Even during the frigid days of winter it is important to remember sun protection for outdoor activities. Reflections from the snow can more than double the danger from the sun’s harmful UV rays.

Funding was provided by the Maine Comprehensive Cancer Control Program/Bureau of Health/Department of Health and Human Services and Maine Turning Point provided in partnership with the Maine Department of Education, the Maine Cancer Consortium, and the American Cancer Society. For more information, contact Anita Ruff at 287-5358 or visit

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