Gavers donation promotes sun safety
Slip. Slop. Slap. Three simple words that teach a fundamental lesson about cancer prevention.
“When you go out in the sun, you slip on a shirt, slop on sunscreen and slap on a hat,” said Denise Graff Ponstein, vice president of the Gavers Community Cancer Foundation, as she and Steve Gavers, foundation president, attended Dean Street Elementary
School’s annual track and field day at Emricson Park.
“We want to get kids thinking about cancer prevention, and sun safety is the perfect place to start,” said Graff Ponstein.
“The key is awareness,” said Gavers.
The visit was part of a new partnership between Woodstock School District 200 and the foundation. The partnership began with a $15,000 donation earlier this year.
The funds were used to purchase educational materials on sun safety, water bottles for students, posters and more. Prior to each school’s track and field day, school nurses and physical education teachers taught students about skin cancer prevention and instructed them to come to field day with a hat, a filled water bottle and sunscreen. Students who did all three were entered in a drawing to win a pool party for 50 guests.
The Woodstock Parks and Recreation Department donated a pool party to each elementary school.
Students took the message to heart, said Dean Street principal Vicki Larson. “We’re excited about the partnership because we need to raise sun-safety awareness. The kids aren’t always prepared with hats and sunscreen. It was great to tie it into field day.”
Field day is an annual end-of-the-school year daylong P.E. activity day and school picnic.
Dean Street P.E. teacher Jay Fuller also was able to provide a visual aid —scars on his face and ears damaged by the sun. “Some kids had learned about (sun safety) from their parents, and we always send a note home before field day, but this year, they really nailed it, and we had a lot more participation,” he said.
For first-grader Joshua Berry, the sun-safety lesson backed up what he’d already learned the hard way. “I had sunburn on my leg once, and it hurt so much I couldn’t move,” he said.
But Berry came prepared for a day in the sun, with two bottles of sunscreen. “I have one for my face and one for my arms and legs. It’s important so you don’t get sunburn,” he said.
The Gavers Community Cancer Foundation will also be a major sponsor of the Fit for the Future walk in the fall and plans to provide a curriculum for fourth-grade health classes. Graff Ponstein said the foundation board hopes to bring the program to more schools. “We’d like to get more participants. Just like seatbelts have become second nature to these kids, we hope to do the same thing with sun safety,” she said.