SBHS Gets Sunscreen Dispensers to Fight Risk for Skin Cancer, Melanoma

South Burlington, Vt - South Burlington High School is trying to get ahead of a big problem, making sure students are safe in the sun.

The high school has a new piece of equipment athletes can take with the on the field, sunscreen dispensers.

It was set up by the SBHS Boosters, a parent association, and the American Cancer Society's "Coaches vs. Cancer Program."

"It's just as important to them as having a water bottle and going out to the field," Christy Beltrami-Yager, a parent at SBHS, said. She's one of the people from the club working to make this happen.

The dispensers are new this year for the spring sports season. One is out by the turf track for most events and the other is by the student locker room.

Seniors Mia Wood and Chelsea Reichard both play sports. Wood is on the field hockey team and Reichard is a golfer. Both are involved with different groups at the high school, helping their fellow athletes protect their skin.

"When you're only out here for two hours or three hours you're not really thinking about how on a cloudy day or on a sunny day how the sun can really effect you until you get home and maybe see a sunburn," Wood said.

The teens try to bring sunscreen with them to practice, but sometimes it's hard to have it out on the field.

"Definitely having these dispensers helps bring awareness and reminds student athletes that it's very important," Wood said.

A Vermont Health Department study from 2013 shows many teens aren't using sunscreen. Only 16 percent of high schoolers, who participated in the study, said they used it.

Health leaders say it's important to get sunscreen into the hands of young people because childhood sunburns are known to increase your risk for skin cancer.

"The biggest risks come from sunburn, so when you're getting heavy exposure and you're burning your skin, particularly in childhood," Sharon Mallory, the Coordinator for the Comprehensive Cancer Control Program at the health department, said.

Mallory say figures from the Center for Disease Control ranks Vermont as the second highest number of melanoma cases in the nation, per capita. 

"We certainly don't want people to not be outside enjoying our beautiful state. So the ways that you can reduce so the ways that you can reduce the impact of UV exposure is the use sunscreen," Mallory said.

Sunscreen, the first step to prevention.

Getting it in the hands of teens is something both Wood and Reichard think is important.

Reichard's grandparents are golfers, both have had cases of melanoma.

"Seeing how they've been playing golf for a while and I'm just starting, like, in the future if I don't pay close attention to putting sunscreen on then I could end up getting it as well," Reichard said.

Even on a cloudy day, officials from the Vermont Health Department say you can still get a sunburn. Other preventative measures include wearing long sleeves when appropriate as well as grabbing a hat and sunglasses before going out.

If you notice anything irregular with your skin, such as moles or blemishes, the health department urges you to get it checked out.


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