By MADDY VITALE
Students at the Ocean City Primary School will be able to enjoy recess and also get out of the heat of the sun with a newly built shade structure celebrated by school staff, parents, dignitaries and most importantly — the children — during a ribbon-cutting ceremony Tuesday morning.
“This is a very exciting day,” Schools Superintendent Matthew Friedman said from the podium in front of the new structure that was decked out in a huge red ribbon. “We are blessed as a district to be in close proximity to the water and enjoy the beautiful weather for most of the months of the year.”
He continued, “We know how important play is for children of all ages, but especially at the Primary School. I am excited that through hard work and grant funding we have this beautiful shade structure.”
The shade structure over preschool/kindergarten playground equipment will help protect 150 students each day from the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays.
The shade structure, a fabric covering, was made possible through a grant from the American Academy of Dermatology. Local dermatologist Dr. Kelly Kane sponsored the grant application for the project and was the featured speaker during the ribbon-cutting ceremony.
Dr. Kane, the wife of School Board president and hand doctor Dr. Patrick Kane, spoke of the need to protect children from the dangers of sunburn.
“We all love the sun, but too much sun can be harmful,” Dr. Kane said.
She said that as a mother of three, she knows the importance of protecting young children from harmful rays.
She noted that the idea for a shade structure at the Primary School came about in 2019 when she spoke with the school nurses.
“Nurses asked me to make a sun-safety video and that led me to do a shade structure grant,” she explained.
She also offered advice to protect one’s skin and life.
“There is no such thing as a healthy tan,” Dr. Kane said. “Everything we do now will have a great impact on us later.”
Among the dignitaries in attendance were Mayor Jay Gillian, Ocean City Council President Pete Madden, Councilman Bob Barr and Councilman Terry Crowley Jr.
In addition, Primary School Principal Cathy Smith, Board of Education President Dr. Patrick Kane and Board of Education members Cecilia Gallelli-Keyes and Chris Halliday were also in attendance as well as PTA and PTO President Jocelyn Palaganas and school administrators Lauren Gunther and Curt Nath.
Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States, and it only takes one blistering sunburn during childhood or adolescence to nearly double a person’s chance of developing melanoma – the deadliest form of skin cancer – later in life.
Smith also addressed the crowd, which included several students.
“We are so grateful that Dr. (Kelly) Kane led the way and we are truly appreciative of your hard work, Dr. Kane,” Smith said. “This shade structure will help protect us for many years to come.”
The American Academy of Dermatology, which supplied the grant for the shade structure, is uniquely positioned to educate the public on the rising incidence of skin cancer and how to prevent its occurrence. Although the vast majority of skin cancers are preventable, the numbers in the U.S. keep growing, according to a news release from the Ocean City school district.
According to the AAD, one in five Americans will develop skin cancer in his or her lifetime.
To protect your skin from the sun, the AAD recommends that everyone:
- Seek shade when appropriate, remembering that the sun’s rays are strongest between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. If your shade is shorter than you are, seek shade.
- Wear protective clothing, such as a lightweight long-sleeved shirt, pants, a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses.
- Apply a broad-spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher to all skin not covered by clothing. Broad-spectrum sunscreen provides protection from both UVA and UVB rays, which can both cause skin cancer.
- Reapply sunscreen every two hours, or after swimming or sweating.
- Avoid tanning beds. Ultraviolet light from tanning beds can cause skin cancer and premature skin aging.
For more information about Ocean City schools visit oceancityschools.org.