Program

Nov 16, 2007

OVERVIEW

Block the Sun, Not the Fun is a skin cancer prevention program for preschools and daycare centers. The intervention is targeted toward center staff and parents and aims to improve children’s sun protection. In a random assignment study of 27 preschools and daycare centers, centers assigned to receive the Block the Sun, Not the Fun intervention were compared with centers assigned to a wait-list control group. Interviews with center directors and parents following program implementation indicated that intervention centers were more likely to apply sunscreen to children twice a day, year round. However, observations of children during outdoor free-play did not reveal any significant differences between control centers and intervention centers on whether children protected themselves from the sun by playing in the shade or wearing sun-protective clothing.

DESCRIPTION OF PROGRAM

Target population:young children at child care centers, their caretakers, and parents

The primary goal of the Block the Sun, Not the Fun intervention was to improve sun protection of children at child care centers. To this end, staff members at child care centers were invited to attend a three-hour workshop on sun protection. This workshop included a presentation by a dermatologist on the relationship between sun exposure and skin cancer; a presentation and question-and-answer session with the Licensing Administrator of the Colorado Department of Social Services; a working session to develop individual skin cancer prevention plans at individual centers; and participation in children’s activities promoting sun protection. Barriers to using sun protection at child care centers were specifically addressed.

The program had a secondary goal of improving sun protection of children by their parents. To this end, parents were provided with educational materials on sun protection, along with learning activities to complete with their children, sunscreen samples, a refrigerator magnet, and a canvas tote bag.

The overall intervention was based on the Health Belief Model and was intended to increase beliefs regarding the susceptibility of children to sun overexposure; increase awareness of the severity of skin cancer; increase perceptions of the benefits of sun protection; and reduce barriers to the practice of sun protection. Behaviors promoted by the intervention included applying sunscreen once in the morning and once in the afternoon; scheduling outdoor activities to occur before ten am and after three pm; increasing the amount of shade in play areas; encouraging children to play in shady areas; and encouraging children to dress in long sleeves, long pants, and hats.

EVALUATION(S) OF PROGRAM

Crane, L. A., Schneider, L. S., Yohn, J. J., Morelli, J. G., & Plomer, K. D. (1999).”Block the Sun, Not the Fun”: Evaluation of a Skin Cancer Prevention Program for Child Care Centers. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 17(1), 31-37.

Evaluated population: 27 Colorado preschools and daycare centers that were identified as not incorporating ideal sun protection into their daily care of children were recruited to participate in this study. Each preschool or daycare center served between 20 and 100 children. 69% of centers served a population that was over 80% white.

Approach: Centers were stratified by size and then paired according to the estimated proportion of minority students served. Centers were randomly assigned, within pairs, to either the treatment group or the wait-list control group. Centers assigned to the treatment group received the Block the Sun, Not the Fun intervention during the spring of 1994. Centers assigned to the wait-list control group did not receive the intervention until the spring of 1995.

Baseline assessments were conducted before the intervention began, in the summer of 1993. Follow-up assessments were conducted in the summer of 1994. Assessments included interviews with center directors, observations of children during outdoor free-play activities, a review of center policies, and interviews with parents.

Results: Following the intervention, center directors assigned to participate in the Block the Sun, Not the Fun training had significantly improved knowledge of and attitudes toward sun protection, as compared with directors assigned to the control group. Intervention directors were also more likely to have sent sun protection materials home to parents and to report applying sunscreen to children year-round. Intervention directors were not significantly more likely to have a written sunscreen policy or to make efforts to have children play outside during off-peak sun hours; however, results did favor intervention directors on these measures.

Observations of children during outdoor free-play activities revealed no significant differences between intervention and control centers in availability of sunscreen, use of shade, and use of sun protective clothing.

In post-intervention parent interviews, intervention parents did not differ significantly from control parents on knowledge of or attitudes toward sun protection. Intervention parents were, however, significantly more likely to report that their child care center applied sunscreen twice a day and significantly less likely to report a desire to see their center make changes with respect to sun protection.

SOURCES FOR MORE INFORMATION

References:

Crane, L. A., Schneider, L. S., Yohn, J. J., Morelli, J. G., & Plomer, K. D. (1999).”Block the Sun, Not the Fun”: Evaluation of a Skin Cancer Prevention Program for Child Care Centers. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 17(1), 31-37.

KEYWORDS:
Preschool, Early Childhood (0-5), School-based, Toddlers, Child Care, Children, Physical Health, Sun Protection, co-ed.

Program information last updated on 11/16/07.

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