Kids at early childhood centres named the most sun smart in WA

BACK L-R: Annabelle Cornish (23 mths) , Ann Mills (Manager, Derrick Ernst Neighbourhood Centre), Bailey Mills (2) and Charlee Freeman (2).  FRONT L-R: Natalie Chapman (Team Leader, Derrick Ernst Neighbourhood Centre) applying sun screen to Arthur Mills (2). Photo: David Baylis
BACK L-R: Annabelle Cornish (23 mths) , Ann Mills (Manager, Derrick Ernst Neighbourhood Centre), Bailey Mills (2) and Charlee Freeman (2). FRONT L-R: Natalie Chapman (Team Leader, Derrick Ernst Neighbourhood Centre) applying sun screen to Arthur Mills (2). Photo: David Baylis

KIDS from more than 400 early childhood centres in WA have been named as the most sun smart age group in the state.

Cancer Council WA found that its SunSmart early childhood centres from suburbs across the state including Morley, Mirrabooka, Helena Valley and Bassendean had the highest levels of sun protection compared to any other age group.

According to the Cancer Council’s 2018 National Early Childhood Sun Protection Survey results, WA children in the zero to five age group who attend day care have near perfect sun protection.

Meanwhile, 94 per cent of kids wear sun protective clothing, 96 per cent wear a hat and 98 per cent wear sunscreen.

Ninety-seven per cent of centres have enough shade and 96 per cent of centres check UV (ultraviolet) index levels every day.

Cancer Council WA SunSmart manager Mark Strickland said the high sun protection standard in the childcare sector had a noticeable impact on the long-term health of children.

“As a result of the work done in childcare centres and schools in WA, over the past 20 years we’ve seen a downturn in melanoma rates in people in the 15 to 39 age group,” he said.

Mr Strickland said the community would be better off if they followed the lead of kids.

“It’s also fantastic to hear children are taking the message home – currently just 32 per cent of WA adults wear sun protective clothing in ummer and only 53 per cent wear a hat,” he said.

“Based on these figures, it’s likely that the childcare sector in WA is providing significantly better protection from UV radiation than any other group in WA.”

Morley’s Derrick Ernst Neighbourhood Centre manager Ann Mills said while the centre just joined the SunSmart program, it had always had sun smart initiatives in place.

“What children are taught at an early age, they carry on right through their life, so that is the idea,” she said.

“We have a no hat, no play outside policy but we have got spare hats that we can put on children.

“The staff are provided with bucket hats so they are always modelling good sun safety.”

The centre’s initiatives include updating its UV index chart every day, having a daily sun protection guide, encouraging parents to put sunscreen on their kids at home, staff re-applying sunscreen throughout the day and all children must wear hats.

About 12,000 Australians are diagnosed with skin cancer each year.

Out of WA’s 1200 early childhood centres, 440 are registered in the SunSmart program.

For information, visit generationsunsmart.com.au.