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Davidson students turn reading assignment into skin cancer protection initiative

Meagan Greene and her Grade 4 students at the unveiling of a free sunscreen dispenser at the Panther Swimming Pool in Davidson, Sask. Trevor Ouellette / Town of Davidson

Students in Davidson, Sask. have turned an idea to prevent skin cancer into reality with the help of their teacher, and after lobbying town officials.

It began with a reading assignment for Grade 4 students at Davidson Elementary School assigned by their teacher, Meagan Greene.

READ MORE: How to choose the right sunscreen for your kids

“What started as a reading assignment for my students intended to improve their skills and help them learn about skin cancer, turned into so much more,” Greene explained.

“The article outlined a project in Toronto where a sunscreen dispenser was installed at a park and from there the students took action as they saw no reason that this couldn’t work in our community.”

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Greene and her students then approached town council with the idea and how it could help protect people from the harmful effects of the sun.

READ MORE: Men are less concerned about skin cancer than women. But they’re more likely to die from it.

It turned into the first free sunscreen dispenser in Saskatchewan.

“When I heard what the students were proposing it made sense and was a good way to help protect the health of our community,” said Trevor Ouellette, Davidson’s recreation director.

“By installing the free sunscreen dispenser we have truly become a sun smart facility where families can come out and enjoy their time outdoors, but know they are protecting themselves from skin cancer.”

The dispenser was installed at the Panther Swimming Pool on Aug. 21.

READ MORE: How to reverse common signs of sun damage

Greene said the students’ initiative goes beyond sun protection.

“The work they put into making the dispenser a reality has showed my students that no matter your age, or where you live, you can make a difference if you stick with what you believe and don’t take no for an answer when it comes to their health or anything they believe in strongly,” Greene said.

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Sun Smart Saskatchewan said over 3,000 new cases of skin cancer are diagnosed yearly in the province.

READ MORE: Melanoma is the deadliest form of skin cancer — here are the warning signs

In 2014, the most recent year statistics are available, 2,987 cases of non-melanoma skin cancer and 185 cases of melanoma were diagnosed, with 30 deaths reported.

The agency recommends protection be taken when the UV index is 3 or higher, including covering up and applying sun screen.

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