History of the SunWise Program at EPA
The goal of the SunWise program has always been to educate children and the adults who care for them about health risks associated with UV radiation and how to protect against excessive UV exposure in an attempt to prevent new skin cancer cases. Skin cancer cases continue to become more prevalent, with one in five Americans developing the disease in their lifetime. In fact, it is expected that approximately 5 million people will be treated for skin cancer in the United States this year.
Teaching children about sun safety from an early age helps to establish a lifetime of healthy habits. By 2015, it is estimated that SunWise education will have prevented more than 11,000 cases of skin cancer and 50 premature deaths. Moreover, a study in Pediatrics assessing the economic value of the SunWise program found that every federal dollar invested in SunWise saved $2-$4 in public health costs (i.e. medical care costs and productivity losses associated with skin cancer). Not only is SunWise effective, but it is far reaching. Between 2000 and 2015, over 58,000 educators joined SunWise and received the SunWise tool kit to teach children in grades K-8 about stratospheric ozone, ultraviolet (UV) radiation, and the health effects of overexposure to UV radiation. These educators represent more than 34,000 schools and over 7,000 other partners, including state and local health departments, non-profits, science and children’s museums, camps, scouts, 4-H clubs, and universities.
Given the success of the SunWise Program at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), we are excited to announce that the program is transitioning to a new home. The SunWise Program will be integrated into the programs run by the National Environmental Education Foundation (NEEF). We are confident that the program will continue to be successful and thrive under the leadership and supervision of NEEF. The transition of the SunWise Program provides an ideal opportunity to reflect on lessons learned and share elements of the program that have helped to make it a success.
Publications About SunWise
- Kyle, J.W., et al. 2008. Economic Evaluation of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s SunWise Program: Sun Protection Education for Young Children. Pediatrics 121(5), e1074-e1084.
- Geller, A.C., et al. 2002. The Environmental Protection Agency’s National SunWise School Program: Sun protection education in U.S. schools (1999-2000). Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology. 46(5), 683-689.
- Geller, A., et al. 2003. Evaluation of the SunWise School Program. The Journal of School Nursing. 19(2), 93-99.
- Geller, A.C., et al. 2003. Can an hour or two of sun protection education keep the sunburn away? Evaluation of the Environmental Protection Agency’s SunWise School Program. Environmental Health: A Global Access Science Source 2003, 2(13).