Shade Planning for Schools

31 Shade Planning for America’s Schools Chapter 4 SHADE Foundation of America and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s SunWise School Program SHADE Foundation of America In February 2001, Shonda Schilling, a 33-year old mother of four young children and wife of Boston Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling, was diagnosed with melanoma. Having been a lifelong sunbather, Ms. Shilling felt a need to inform the public about the dangers of exposure to the sun’s UV rays. She learned that although Arizona has the highest melanoma rate in the United States, the state had no organizations devoted to preventing the cancer. As a way to fill that gap, Shonda founded the SHADE Foundation. SHADE Foundation of America is a non-profit organization dedicated to the education, prevention, and detection of skin cancer. Created in September 2002, the foundation’s goal is to prevent the development of skin cancer through educational programs and free skin cancer screenings. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s SunWise School Program First piloted in May 1999, the SunWise School Program, developed by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), is an environmental and health education program designed to teach children and their caregivers how to protect themselves from overexposure to the sun. The standards-based, cross-curricular lessons in the SunWise Tool Kit were designed to foster sun-safe behaviors in children and to increase their knowledge and appreciation of the environment. In addition, the program encourages schools to create shade structures, adopt sun-safe policies, and develop additional community partnerships. Since the year 2000, the K–8 curriculum has been available on a national basis, free of charge, to any school registering at the EPA SunWise Web site, To participate in the SunWise program, schools must adopt a SunWise activity, which may include implementing classroom lessons, collecting and reporting UV radiation data, adopting school-wide sun-safe policies, or engaging in skin cancer prevention community outreach. Schools must also participate in a program evaluation. Creating a Collaboration The development of the collaboration between the SHADE Foundation and the EPA began in October 2002. Linda Rutsch, Director of the SunWise School Program at the EPA, was visiting the Web site of a melanoma foundation in Nevada when she noticed a link to the SHADE Foundation. “Usually I will check out various links in order to keep up with what’s out there,” Ms. Rutsch recalls. She clicked on the SHADE Foundation’s link, learned about the Foundation’s skin cancer prevention efforts in Arizona, and found a contact name. Ms. Rutsch called Sue Gorham, executive director of the SHADE Foundation, and told her, “I would like to send you a SunWise Kit and tell you a little about our program.” As luck would have it, the SHADE Foundation was in the process of searching for a school curriculum on sun safety. Ms. Schilling and Ms. Gorham decided to develop a program for schools that would allow them to acquire shade structures for their campuses through the SHADE Foundation. The idea was to encourage schools to implement a sun-safe curriculum and to develop sun-safe policies within the school.