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    Playing it safe: Women's derm society reaches thousands with sun protection message

    National report — Through its outreach programs — "Play Safe in the Sun" and "Families Play Safe in the Sun" — the Women's Dermatologic Society (WDS) is getting the word out, nationally, about sun damage, sun safety and sun protection.

    Following impressive results from its first four years of outreach, the WDS has announced that L'Oral U.S.A. has awarded the WDS Foundation $1.05 million for three more years of "Play Safe in the Sun," a campaign that performed 2,365 free skin cancer screenings when it was launched in 2003.

    Under that program, WDS dermatologists volunteered to offer free skin cancer screenings and teach people about sun damage and sun safety at LPGA golf events.

    Then, in the fall of 2004, WDS received a grant from 3M Foundation to develop "Families Play Safe in the Sun," a three-year program focused on sun safety and good skin health practices for families.

    "We visited 14 cities across the U.S. We are completing that program. For the fifteenth event, we have chosen to have 'Families Play Safe in the Sun,' coast to coast," says WDS President Suzanne Connolly, M.D.

    At press time, members planned to complete sun safety activities in 35 cities during the month of May.

    WDS arms dermatologists who volunteer for community events with how-to kits for successful outreach booths, which can offer skin cancer screenings, free brochures, sunscreen samples, sun-safety activities for kids, and even bracelets that change color when exposed to UV light.

    WDS recommends that dermatologists use the DermaScan device (Cortex Technology, Denmark) to make people aware of the sun's damaging effects.

    According to Dr. Connolly, 353 WDS members, residents and medical students have volunteered for the "Families Play Safe in the Sun" program's 14 events.

    New program

    The original "Play Safe in the Sun" program, held at 10 LPGA golf tournaments, required the help of 117 board-certified WDS dermatologist volunteers, who performed 2,365 free skin cancer screenings and logged 1,500 volunteer hours.

    The new "Play Safe in the Sun" program "will be targeting golfers and tennis players ... at U.S. Tennis Association (and LPGA) events," Dr. Connolly tells Dermatology Times.

    "We are hoping to include some junior events, as well," she says.

    The new program will target about five tennis or golf tournaments a year and feature promotional support of top-ranked LPGA Tour player Paula Creamer.

    Dermatologist volunteers will offer free skin cancer screenings, sun damage assessments, sun safety education and free sunscreen for tournament spectators, as well as private screenings for LPGA players, caddies and members of the media.

    These programs are a great opportunity for WDS members to reach out to their communities and participate in public education, Dr. Connolly says.

    "To touch multiple members of a family all at one time — the grandparents, parents, younger kids — is very special," she says.

    For more information:

    Lisette Hilton
    Lisette Hilton is president of Words Come Alive, based in Boca Raton, Florida.

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