Shade Planning for Schools

26 Shade Planning for America’s Schools Chapter 4 C ASE S TUDIES Schools and school districts across the United States have already begun the process of shade planning. This chapter introduces three case studies. The first, Collier County, Florida, demonstrates the power of a single individual to motivate a school board to erect shade canopies over the playgrounds of all of the school district’s elementary schools. The second case study, Pinellas County, Florida, demonstrates the fund-raising capacity of schools’ parent-teacher organizations (PTOs) and the effect that they can have on decisions of local school boards. Lastly, the story of the collaboration between Shonda Schilling SHADE Foundation and the United States Environmental Protection Agency’s SunWise School Program demonstrates the great potential for partnerships that exists for schools and organizations concerned with preventing skin cancer. Collier County, Florida Located in Southwest Florida, Collier County encompasses 2,025 square miles and is home to 296,678 residents, according to the U.S. Census Bureau (2004). The January average high temperature is 77.6°, which is also the lowest average high throughout the year. The county’s per capita income for the year 1999 was just over $31,000, approximately $3,000 above the U.S. average for that year, and 10.3% of the county’s population lived below the U.S. Department of Health and Human Service’s poverty guidelines. One reason for the county’s higher-than-average per capita income may be the large number of retirees who have chosen to take up residence in this county. Even with the large percentage of residents older than 65 years of age, almost 20% of Collier County’s residents are 18 years old or younger. The Collier County school district is home to 44 public schools including 2 charter schools. The policy-making body for the school district is a five-member school board. Getting Started Teryl Brzeski is a skin cancer survivor. In 1986, at the age of 37, Ms. Brzeski was diagnosed with melanoma, the most deadly form of skin cancer. Her diagnosis motivated her to research the causes of skin cancer and inspired her to do all that she could to help prevent others from developing the disease. “Having a deadly disease and being lucky enough to have a full recovery is a wonderful thing. In my case, it has instilled a passion for being alive and a desire to share cancer prevention information with others.” Ms. Brzeski became especially concerned about her daughter and the other students at Seagate Elementary School. Other Collier County parents were equally concerned about their children’s exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation. In fact, during the late 1980s, Seagate’s PTO raised the $30,000 necessary to erect a pavilion on the school grounds to provide a shaded area for physical education classes. Other than the covered pavilion, however, much of the playground was not protected from excessive solar radiation, and during recess, children played in areas where there was no shade. Determined to do something about the situation, Ms. Brzeski began her campaign for a shaded playground by researching options for providing shade on school grounds, eventually presenting her ideas to the Collier County School Board. Along with two dermatologists and a representative from the American Cancer Society, she explained to the school board why it was important to provide children, teachers, and staff with