At A Glance
Kansas Pool Cool is a sun safety education program aimed at an important audience: kids at the pool! Lifeguards, swim instructors, and other pool staff are trained to teach kids about sun safety during their swim lessons. The setting is ideal for instructors to describe the benefits of sun protection, and the dangers of overexposure. Key members of the Kansas Cancer Partnership (KCP)—the Kansas Comprehensive Cancer Prevention & Control Program and Midwest Cancer Alliance—successfully expanded the program in 2015. Kansas Pool Cool can now teach more kids how to stay safe in the sun than ever before.
Public Health Challenge
Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the United States. Almost five million people are treated for skin cancer in the U.S. every year. Treatment can be stressful, time-consuming, disfiguring, and costly. In some cases, skin cancer is deadly, and more than nine thousand Americans die from it annually. The deadliest form of skin cancer, melanoma, is usually caused by exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light. Most of these cases are preventable. Unfortunately, the majority of Americans do not regularly use sunscreen to protect themselves from the sun’s harmful UV rays. One in five Americans will develop skin cancer during their lifetime as a result. Kids who spend a lot of time outdoors are at an especially high risk of sun overexposure. Skin cancer prevention is a lifetime effort that begins with good sun safety practices in childhood. The challenge is raising awareness of the fact that most cases of skin cancer can be prevented.
The key to raising awareness is finding the perfect time to send the audience a message. Pool Cool is designed with this in mind. Eight sun safety lessons are added to existing swim lessons at community pools. With the sun in the sky overhead, swim instructors hand out sunscreen, sunglasses and UV wristbands, and discuss sun safety. Lessons are about five minutes long, and segue into regular swimming instruction. By training the aquatic staff to teach kids sun safety, lessons are taught by the people kids already know and trust. The train-the-trainer model is also important because those who teach are better at recalling what they’ve learned. In effect, the Pool Cool message resonates across generations and gets stronger every year.