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Bostonians to Get Shade, Sunscreen and Education to Fight Skin Cancer as Boston Becomes a Model Sunwise Community

Release Date: 04/22/2008
Contact Information: David Deegan, (617) 918-1017

(Boston, Mass. - April 22, 2008) – On Earth Day, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Stephen Johnson joined Boston Mayor Thomas Menino and SHADE Foundation of America founder Shonda Schilling to recognize Boston as a SunWise Community.

Mayor Menino proclaimed April 22, “SunWise Day” in Boston and pledged to work with SHADE and EPA throughout the year to provide shade, sunscreen, and a quality SunWise education to the city’s youth and families.

“Boston is leading by example, and Mayor Menino’s SunWise City announcement only adds to the city's green reputation,” said EPA Administrator Stephen L. Johnson. “By planting trees and educating the public about the dangers of sun exposure, Boston is showing its commitment to the health of its environment and residents.”

"Being SunWise is important since skin cancer affects everyone, especially in Boston where we have large youth and elderly populations," said Boston Mayor Menino, a cancer survivor. "That's why the city has committed to educating our children about protecting themselves from the sun and have begun our plans to plant 100,000 trees by 2020. In addition to providing shade for city residents and visitors alike, these trees will help keep our city cooler during the summer months, reducing air conditioning costs, and absorbing more carbon dioxide."

“I applaud the Mayor’s efforts,” said Shonda Schilling, founder of the SHADE Foundation of America. “Teaching sun safety to children and their families is crucial because nearly half of all new cancers diagnosed in the United States each year are skin cancers. Skin cancer can be prevented by taking simple precautions like wearing sunscreen, a hat and sunglasses, and seeking shade."

Since overexposure to UV radiation affects people of all racial and ethnic groups in the form of skin cancer, cataracts and other eye damage, premature aging and wrinkling of the skin, and immune system suppression, Boston’s status as a national leader in work to eliminate racial and ethnic disparities in health makes the city a perfect fit for a SunWise Community. In 2004, Massachusetts had the 8th highest melanoma incidence rate in the country; 25 percent higher than the national average. This year, the American Cancer Society estimates that 62,480 U.S. men and women will be diagnosed with melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, and 1,810 of these cases are expected to occur in Massachusetts alone.

To help the city promote sun safety, SHADE is donating 100 trees, 10 shade structures and sunscreen, and EPA’s SunWise Program is providing free educational activity kits and training to city educators and community workers.

In addition to the proclamation, the Swingset Mamas were on hand to perform their hit song “Sunscreen Dance,” trees donated by the SHADE Foundation were planted, skin cancer prevention information and sunscreen were distributed, posters submitted to the annual Limit the Sun, Not the Fun national poster contest sponsored by SHADE, EPA and WeatherBug were on display, and fun SunWise activities were held for local children.

SHADE Foundation of America, founded by Shonda Schilling, is dedicated to the eradication of melanoma through the education of children and the community in the prevention and detection of skin cancer and the promotion of sun safety.

SunWise is an environmental and health education program that teaches children and their caregivers how to protect themselves from overexposure to the sun through the use of classroom-, school- and community-based components. Through SunWise Communities, EPA works with state and local governments to incorporate support for sun-safe practices at multiple levels of the community. This year, SunWise is working with the city of Boston, Cobb County, GA and the state of Washington to raise awareness about the need for sun protection in all regions of the country.

More information:
- EPA SunWise Program (epa.gov/sunwise)
- SHADE Foundation: (www.shadefoundation.org)
- City of Boston: (www.cityofboston.gov)

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