Protecting kids from the sun

The Merced City School District staff is applying for a grant that will fund a permanent shade structure for students at Ada Givens Elementary School.

The grant, worth $8 million, would provide money for the school to build a structure over the preschool/kindergarten playground at Givens. There was once a large tree that provided shade for the students, but that has been removed, according to the staff report in Tuesday's school board agenda packet.

Preschool students on the campus are scheduled for daily outdoor activity on the playground. Young children are particularly at risk when it comes to the harmful effects of solar radiation. 

Sunburns or tanning as a child can lead to skin cancer as an adult, according to the American Cancer Society. California is among US states with the highest occurrence of skin cancer diseases.   

News of the shade structure reminded me of my time as a volunteer with the American Cancer Society when I taught little kids to "Slip! Slap! Slop!"

The slogan reminds everyone to slip on a shirt, slop on sunscreen, and slap on a hat whenever you go out in the sun.

The shade structure grant is available from the American Academy of Dermatology.

The school board will vote whether or not to apply for the grant at their meeting Tuesday night. The meeting begins at 7 p.m. at John Muir Elementary School.