Teaching young girls the importance of sun safety is the basis for a new partnership between Outrun the Sun, Inc. (OTS) and Girls on the Run International (GOTRI). Together, the two nonprofit organizations will work to provide sun safety education for Girls on the Run participants across America and Canada. This year the program will reach approximately 150,000 girls between the ages of eight and 13, and more than 60,000 volunteers, many of whom are young women.
“We absolutely support the values that Girls on the Run International instills in its young members,” notes Anita Day, executive director of Outrun the Sun, Inc. These values involve fostering confidence, good health, and an active lifestyle. “Our goal not only is to provide information that teaches girls the importance of protecting their skin in order to avoid sun damage and skin cancer, but also to instill the belief that they don’t have to be tan to be beautiful.”
The partnership will involve sharing information via social media, through the more than 200 Girls on the Run councils and at GOTRI events, which involve a series of 5K runs. “Outrun the Sun’s mission aligns well with ours,” says Girls on the Run International president Elizabeth Kunz. “Both organizations promote healthy lifestyle habits. Sun safety should go hand-in-hand with our mission of inspiring girls to lead joyful, healthy and confident lives.”
Over exposure to ultraviolet radiation is the most common cause of skin cancer and melanoma. The Center for Disease Control reports that less than one-third of American youths practice effective sun protection. It is estimated that 2.3 million teens visit a tanning salon at least once a year. In an American Academy of Dermatology survey, one-third of teenagers say they tan because it looks healthy. Consider this: One blistering sunburn during childhood more than doubles a person’s risk for developing melanoma later in life. Melanoma is the second most prevalent cancer in people ages 15–29, the most common cancer in women ages 25–29, and affects people of every age and ethnicity. One American dies of melanoma every hour.
Not only are these statistics alarming, they also illustrate the importance of youth developing sun safe practices early in life. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, new research shows that even a mild to moderate increase in sun exposure over an extended period, with or without sunburn, may significantly spur the growth of pigmented moles in children, thereby greatly increasing their risk of skin cancers. The skin of teens is thought to be more vulnerable than that of adults. Teens may be especially susceptible to skin cancer because their cells are dividing and changing more rapidly than those of adults.
Outrun the Sun, Inc. sun safety educational programming is supported, in part, by the John Gongos Melanoma Education Fund.
Outrun the Sun, Inc. is an Indianapolis-based nonprofit organization dedicated to building awareness of melanoma and other skin cancers, educating communities about preventive measures that reduce melanoma's incidence rate and raising funds for melanoma research, leading to effective treatments and a cure. It has created partnerships with the YMCA of Greater Indianapolis, USA Track & Field and the Road Runners Club of America. OTS also supports melanoma research nationwide.
Girls on the Run is a life-changing, experiential learning program for girls ages eight to 13 years old. The program combines training for a 5k running event with self-esteem enhancing, uplifting workouts. The goals of the program are to develop and improve competence, unleash confidence through accomplishment, develop strength of character, respond to others and oneself with care and compassion, create positive connections with peers and adults, and make a meaningful contribution to community, all while establishing a lifetime appreciation of health and fitness. Girls on the Run has grown from 3 councils in 1998 to 215 councils covering 47 states and Canada in 2013.