On September 5, staff in the UNC IE Environmental Resource Program (ERP) partnered with the UNC Center for Environmental Health and Susceptibility (CEHS) to host a public health forum on childhood sun damage and skin cancer risk. The theme was Protecting Today’s Children from Skin Cancer in Adulthood. IE Associate Director for Outreach and Public Service and CEHS Community Outreach and Engagement Core (COEC) director Kathleen Gray opened the forum, highlighting it as an opportunity to facilitate a dialogue about community education strategies among public health stakeholders—including the state health department, schools, health care providers, and health advocacy organizations.
Dr. Bill Kaufmann, the Center’s director for Interdisciplinary Research, shared emerging research on childhood sunburns and the increased risk for melanoma, with emphasis on UV exposure, mole development among children and genetics as reasons for concern. COEC manager and ERP staff member, Neasha Graves, presented the educational materials and activities developed to educate families and youth about skin cancer prevention.
Following the presentations, participants separated into breakout sessions, conducting round table discussions on effective existing outreach strategies, challenges, ideas for implementing new strategies, and resources needed. Participants also decided on some next action steps, including opportunities for sharing ERP’s Skin Cancer and Sun Safety module to inform community audiences and “train the trainer” sessions for professionals employed by CEHS’s community partners throughout the state. Funding for the forum was provided by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences.