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Posted September 9, 2014

U.S. Surgeon General Visits Bandelier Elementary

School's Sun and Shade team recognized for promoting sun-safety education

Fist-bumping children in the hallway and swinging from the monkey bars, Dr. Boris D. Lushniak, U.S. Public Health Service Surgeon General, visited Bandelier Elementary, teaching students about preventing skin cancer and recognizing their work in increasing awareness of sun safety.

“You’re providing an example here in Albuquerque to the rest of the nation,” Lushniak said of the work Bandelier has done to prevent skin cancer.

The visit is part of the recent Surgeon General’s Call to Action to Prevent Skin Cancer, an initiative aimed at increasing awareness of skin cancer and to call for actions to reduce its risk.

“It is a pleasure to see our Sun and Shade team recognized by the Surgeon General,” Bandelier Principal Glenda Armstrong said.  

Bandelier has a long relationship with the New Mexico Department of Health in sun-safety awareness, education, and staff and parent community support through the RAYS (Raising Awareness in Youth About Sun Safety) Project. In 2003, a parent passionate about sun health proposed a special committee to the PTA. Since then, the Bandelier PTA Sun/Shade Committee works to give hats to all kindergarteners, install shade structures, and teach sun-safe behavior to the community.

Many RAYS Project schools have changed policies on their campuses to support sun protection, including changing recess times to avoid peak UV exposure, allowing students to wear hats and sunglasses, providing shade on playgrounds, and developing English- and Spanish-language materials for parents on sun safety.

During his visit, Lushniak took a tour of the playground and fields to see the shade structures and observe kindergarten recess.

“We’re very proud of everything you’ve done with the grassroots effort,” Lushniak said. “The prevention of skin cancer really takes place at the local level.”

Lushniak, speaking to Ivan Reeves’ fifth grade classroom, issued a Surgeon General Certificate of Appreciation to the Bandelier Elementary and the PTA Sun/Safety Committee for their leadership in promoting sun-safety education and creating a sun-safe school campus.

Reeves’ class was chosen because of his efforts in incorporating sun-safety education in many content areas of his classroom, including art, music, and science over the past eight years. Each year his fifth grade class presents a skit to the rest of the school, teaching them about sun exposure.

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