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Rural Schools Get Sun Smart Visitors

03 March, 2024

Students in rural communities across northern Nevada this month got an extra dose of sunshine—in the form of Sun Smart Schools. The students attended assemblies and classroom presentations on the sun safety and skin cancer prevention program from trained Nevada Cancer Coalition staff.

Students across all grade levels, from kindergarten through high school, participated in the presentations tailored to provide age-appropriate information. NCC’s Cancer Prevention and Early Detection Programs Manager, Lily Helzer, said teaching Nevada youth about sun safety is a priority.

“Rural kiddos are outside A LOT,” she said. “It’s great, and some of them practice a few of the 5 Ss that we teach. Long sleeves are commonly worn. But shade and sunscreen are less common.”

Sarah Grocki leads a Sun Smart Schools assembly.
Sarah Grocki leads a Sun Smart Schools assembly.

Many rural Nevada schools have sunscreen dispensers on-site where students can get a few quirts of SPF 30 before heading outside. Several are adding shade structures to their playgrounds this spring using grant funding provided by NCC.

Helzer said teaching sun safety to the students was a blast, and a really important activity.

“Every school we went to has an employee with a cancer story, whether it’s a teacher, a nurse, or a coach.”

“Rural children are familiar with skin cancer,” added Valerie Martinez, a cancer outreach coordinator with NCC. She said school nurses were loved by the students, making it much easier to get them interested in a health topic.

Regardless, the Sun Smart Schools team, which included Helzer, Martinez, and NCC Community Engagement Manager Sarah Grocki, brought plenty of props and games to keep the students engaged.

“Everyone loves the goofy sunglasses,” Helzer said.

In April and May Martinez and Grocki will take the Sun Smart Schools presentations on a tour in southern Nevada.

Interested in a Sun Smart Schools presentation in your classroom or assembly? Make a request here.

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