Inspiration and Collaboration Result in a Sun SMART Program

By Angie Clegg and Martha Pendleton

Donald W. Reynolds Cancer Support House

 Inspiration and Collaboration Result in a Sun SMART Program

When the staff of the Donald W. Reynolds Cancer Support House began to review the Arkansas Cancer Plan, they were alarmed to learn that melanoma diagnoses in Arkansas rose 53% from 1997 to 2007. This knowledge, along with the sun safety options and goals in the plan, inspired the Support House staff to take action to promote and encourage protective behaviors from sun and UV exposure. The Sun SMART program was the result.

The Donald W. Reynolds Cancer Support Home’s Sun SMART plan is a perfect example of the Arkansas Cancer Plan at work.  SMART is an acronym for:

Slip on a hat or t-shirt

Move to the shade

Apply sunscreen (at least a 30 SPF)

Reapply sunscreen every few hours

Tell your friends to be Sun SMART

The SMART program is just that, smart.  In a simple and memorable way this program promotes proven prevention techniques to the general public.  The Support Home is encouraging protective behaviors from sun and UV exposure and, most important, helping people reduce their risk of skin cancer.

The Donald W. Reynolds Cancer Support Home used the Arkansas Cancer Plan as their inspiration, developed a creative campaign and connected with the necessary partners to get that message out.  Implementation of SMART took collaboration with the Fort Smith Library and the Fort Smith Parks Department.  Ultimately, nine other organizations joined in the SMART plan and have helped ensure that the Arkansas Cancer Plan is an actionable document that can lead to real-world cancer control efforts. The program reached over 2,000 kids with the Sun Smart message, trained 23 lifeguards, provided 2 gallons of sunscreen to the community pools, educated 36 adults with a Skin Cancer Awareness Program, and performed 57 free skin cancer screenings.

Fort Smith Parks
 The Reynolds Cancer Support House is located across the street from Fort Smith’s beautiful Creekmore Park, which includes a playground, tennis courts, picnic areas, basketball court, putt-putt course, walking/running trail, train, and pool, so the Support House staff knew that this would be the perfect place to spread the Sun SMART message.

To kick-off the Sun SMART program, kids were invited to Creekmore Park on June 21st at 2 p.m. Entertainment featured Scudder the Amazing Frisbee Dog doing tricks with a UV frisbee. Kids received free (regular) frisbees, frozen fruit treats, sunscreen samples, and Sun SMART education. UV bead crafts were also made as well as painting fingernails with UV polish. The UV products change colors in the sun, serving as a wonderful teaching tool.

Throughout the summer,”Volunteens” (Support House teen volunteers) canvassed the park and delivered frisbees, sunscreen, and the Sun SMART message. The Sun SMART program purchased a sunscreen dispenser for the Creekmore Park pool so that swimmers have free access to sunscreen. Over 2 gallons of sunscreen was provided. Banners with the Sun SMART message were displayed at Creekmore Park pool as well as at the Martin Luther King Park playground and the Woodlawn Park wading pool.

Fort Smith Public Library
The Fort Smith Library collaborated with the Support House to deliver the Sun SMART message. The 1,600 kids that participate in the summer reading program received a Sun SMART card and sunscreen as well as an invitation to participate in one of four Sun SMART story times. Each story time featured summer fun books, the Sun SMART message, a UV bead craft, and snack.

 The Plan at Work
The Reynolds Cancer Support House’s Sun SMART plan is a perfect example of the Arkansas Cancer Plan at work. When confronted with a need, they developed a creative way to deliver a much needed message, found partners to help deliver the message, and invited additional partners to fund the work. So, during the summer of 2010, nine organizations worked together in Fort Smith for one cause: to protect skin and save lives.