IMPACT Melanoma partners with eight North Shore cities and towns to make life-saving sun protection accessible to residents from all walks of life.
The North Shore Practice Safe Skin Collaboration will provide free sunscreen at 70 recreation sites in Salem, Nahant, Lynn, Swampscott, Marblehead, Danvers, Peabody, and Beverly
June 30, 2002 SALEM, Mass. – A collaboration between eight local governments on the North Shore, Dermatology & Skin Health and IMPACT Melanoma, a national non-profit organization dedicated to skin cancer prevention and education, will provide free sunscreen this summer at more than 70 locations, including parks, playgrounds, beaches, and outdoor work sites.
The North Shore Practice Safe Skin Collaboration is a two-year initiative funded through a state Department of Public Health grant that supports collaborative healthcare initiatives on the North Shore. The program provides comprehensive sun protection for the region, including in neighborhoods where economic challenges and climate change are exacerbating the impacts of sun and heat exposure.
“Lynn is very fortunate to be part of this IMPACT Melanoma project,” Lynn Public Health Director Michele Desmarais said. “Sun protection can be costly, and many Lynn residents might not be able to afford it. So making it available at our parks, splash pads, and recreation fields is an important benefit.”
Salem Health Agent David Greenbaum, who had his own recent skin cancer scare, said the new program goes well beyond previous sun-safety education efforts in the region. “This is definitely more proactive—now we’re offering free sunscreen dispensers and placing them in specific locations not just for residents and beachgoers, but also for people who work out in the sun all day long.”
To determine sites for the dispensers, planners took multiple factors into account, including the U.S. Centers for Disease Control’s Social Vulnerability Index (SVI), which is based on 15 factors including poverty, housing density, and access to transportation. Adequate sun protection is critical in these areas in part because socioeconomic status, race, and ethnicity are associated with decreased access to dermatology care and with patients who have more advanced skin cancers at diagnosis.
A second phase will provide shade structures in areas of need. Studies have shown that high SVI areas are often “heat islands” that have fewer trees and less access to shade. “As we navigate increasing temperatures due to climate change, we want to make outdoor activity safer and more comfortable for everyone,” said IMPACT Melanoma Executive Director Deb Girard.
The program will officially launch at a kickoff event in Salem on July 21 at the Salem Farmer’s Market. The event will feature sunscreen dispenser demos, sun safety kid giveaways, Richie’s Italian Slush, and several speakers, including:
- Salem Mayor Kim Driscoll
- Dermatologist Gary Mendese
- IMPACT Melanoma Executive Director Deb Girard
- Other Skin cancer experts as well as municipal government and health officials from the participating communities.
The effort is being coordinated by UMass Chan Medical School student Christopher Fay, who became passionate about sun safety after his father, Michael, was diagnosed with melanoma.