Local Middle School Gets Structure to Protect Kids from Sun

By E.G. Yan and Vanessa deGier, UCSF Today | May 17, 2007

Seventy-five students were among those attending the dedication ceremony of a new sun shade structure at the KIPP San Francisco Bay Academy last Friday.

"Our outdoor courtyard had no sun protection, so the kids used to eat lunch in the basement cafeteria. This was clearly not a very fun option for kids who wanted to be outdoors getting fresh air," said Lydia Glassie, founder and principal of the Bay Academy. "The shade structure is a welcome addition to our existing facilities while our kids participate in outdoor activities."

Made from an industrial-strength mesh fabric strung across six steel poles, the freestanding structure at the school was built late last year from a grant awarded to the UCSF Department of Dermatology. The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), which offered the program, wanted children to be protected from the sun. The school yard at KIPP was poorly shaded and offered no protection from the sun.

Highlighting the dedication event, Timothy Berger, MD, professor of clinical dermatology at UCSF, spoke to the students about the importance of sun safety. The students learned about the causes and worrisome features of most forms of skin cancer, while staying cool under the structure. The children were also encouraged to use sun screen and to wear hats during periods of excessive sun exposure.

"A sunny day would be an obvious use of the structure, but the San Francisco fog offers poor protection from ultraviolet rays," he told the students. "This permanent shade will provide a place for you to play outside."

The dedication was timed to occur in May, which is designated as Melanoma/Skin Cancer Detection and Prevention Month by the American Academy of Dermatology. To help educate the community about skin cancer, dermatologists at UCSF dedicated their time for a free skin cancer screening on May 12, screening close to 300 people of all ages for skin cancer.

Read more at E.G. Yan and Vanessa deGier, UCSF Today