State Health Department Opens Poster Contest to Illuminate Sun-Safe Behaviors

ALBANY, N.Y. (Jan. 15, 2010) – A poster contest for students from kindergarten through eighth grade has kicked off to raise awareness about sun safety. The New York State Department of Health's annual "SunWise with SHADE" poster contest has attracted thousands of New York students to spread the message of sun safety since the contest was implemented in 2007.

The contest is conducted each year by the DOH in collaboration with the SHADE Foundation of America, WeatherBug Schools, and the federal Environmental Protection Agency to teach children ways to protect their skin and eyes from excessive sun exposure. Last year's New York State winner, eighth-grader Andrew Lewis from Jefferson Middle School in Jamestown, depicted a young man promoting numerous strategies to protect himself from skin cancer (see http://www.nyhealth.gov/diseases/cancer/skin/sun_shade/2009/images/sun_shade_8th_grade_winner_andrew_807x1048_poster.pdf).

"The Department receives thousands of posters for this popular contest, and the entries are more creative and informed each year," New York State Health Commissioner Richard F. Daines, M.D., said. "The contest is a fun, interactive way to teach children the importance of protecting themselves from sun exposure. Children are especially vulnerable to dangerous sun exposure through blistering childhood sunburns that can double the risk for skin cancer as adults. The majority of lifetime sun exposure occurs before age 18."

All New York State students in grades K-8 are encouraged to submit one poster each depicting ways to reduce overexposure to the sun. Each student submitting a poster will receive a certificate of achievement as a "sun expert" and an ultraviolet (UV) bracelet that changes colors when exposed to UV light. The bracelet is a popular tool to remind children to practice sun safe behaviors. Student posters are judged by the SHADE Foundation, a non-profit group dedicated to skin cancer prevention, which will select an overall state winner, one winner from each grade level, and honorable mention winners.

Students who win the poster contest receive prizes that may include a $50 check. The overall state winner will receive additional prizes, which may include a $100 gift certificate and a sun station for their school that tracks real-time UV data. New York's winning poster will be entered into a national contest, competing against other state entries for a grand prize family trip to Walt Disney World. Winning posters are also featured on the Department of Health Web site and in educational materials, such as annual posters and calendars.

Students should submit hand drawn posters on an 8.5 x 11 inch piece of paper no later than March 12, 2010. Entries should be original, creative, show ways to prevent skin cancer and raise sun safety awareness and be attached to an official entry form, which is available at www.nyhealth.gov/diseases/cancer/skin/.