The Canadian Cancer Society BC & Yukon completed its second annual Tan-Free Grad Challenge, and secondary school students across B.C. had a chance to fight back against cancer by encouraging their classmates to forego the “prom tan”, and instead, rock the skin they’re in.
Throughout March, the Canadian Cancer Society challenged grads in eight northern high schools to take a stand against skin cancer and to commit to being tan-free for their graduation. Competition to be the school with the highest percent of tan-free pledges was very close. Duchess Park Secondary School in Prince George edged out the seven other competing high schools with a formidable ninety-nine percent of grads pledging to be tan-free for their graduation!
Laura Fletcher and Kayla Buttress were the tan-free leaders spearheading the campaign at Duchess Park Secondary where 143 out of 144 eligible grads took the pledge to be tan free for grad. “We really wanted to raise awareness about skin cancer. There are so many myths that need to be broken” says Fletcher. “I learned a lot about the dangers of tanning and after learning about the consequences, I will never tan again,” explained Buttress.
Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in Canada and over-exposure to ultraviolet radiation from the sun and indoor tanning equipment is the major cause of skin cancer. The good news is that skin cancer is also one of the most preventable cancers.
Melanoma skin cancer – the most severe form of skin cancer – is the third most common form of cancer for people between the ages of 15 and 29. In an effort to prevent skin cancer, grade 12 students from northern high schools lead the Challenge by educating their peers on the dangers of Ultraviolet radiation from both the sun and indoor tanning equipment and by collecting tan-free pledges from their fellow students.
“We know that there is no safe way to get a tan and that any use of indoor tanning equipment before the age of 35 can increase a person’s risk of melanoma” says Kerensa Medhurst, health promotion coordinator with the Canadian Cancer Society. “With teens still accessing tanning beds, we have our work cut out for us”.
In addition to the Challenge, the Canadian Cancer Society, BC and Yukon, applauds the announcement made during the pledge month by the Honourable Health Minister, Michael de Jong, to restrict access to tanning beds for young people under the age of 18. “The regulation is anticipated to take effect this fall”, says Kerensa Medhurst.
“This is another step forward in cancer prevention,” said Barbara Kaminsky, CEO, Canadian Cancer Society, BC and Yukon. “The decision to introduce this healthy public policy has the support of the majority of British Columbians, and will help protect young people from getting skin cancer later in life.”
The local mobilization of Tanning is Out ambassadors across BC played a role in prompting the BC government to ban teens under 18 from using tanning beds. Northern students played a big part in this.
Many people across the province took this issue to heart and into the schools. Canadian Cancer Society Health Promotion Coordinators worked with local youth volunteers in high schools to develop and implement the Tanning is Out campaign.
Established in 1938, the Canadian Cancer Society is a national charity that fights cancer by doing everything we can to prevent cancer, fund research and support people living with cancer. Go to www.cancergameplan.ca to find out more about our prevention activities. Join the fight! Visit our website at cancer.ca or call our toll-free bilingual Cancer Information Service at 1 888 939-3333.