GREATER SPRINGFIELD – The Melanoma Foundation of New England (MFNE) is hosting its sixth annual Your Skin Is In No-Tanning Pledge contest through April at high schools and colleges across New England.
MFNE's program educates teens and young adults on the dangers of tanning and the direct link between tanning beds and melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer. Schools that gather the most No-Tanning student pledges earn cash awards, gift certificates, trips to Six Flags New England, pizza parties and more.
To support the program, MFNE representatives and melanoma survivors will travel to schools across New England presenting anti-tanning information, games, and facial scans. Over the past five years MFNE has reached more than 250,000 students through their Your Skin Is In program. The Your Skin Is In contest for area college students runs through March 5 while the high school challenge runs through April 2. Individual students or schools in the six New England states can register for Your Skin Is In at www.mfne.org.
According to Deb Girard, MFNE's executive director, "Teens want to believe that 'it can't happen to them,' or that it's safe to just get a 'base tan' before the prom or before spring break. The truth is that tanning booths emit up to 15 times more UV radiation than the sun. There is no such thing as a safe tan."
Girard added, "Through Your Skin Is In we've been able to reach a quarter million students over the past five years and we hope the message resonates throughout adulthood. By taking the No-Tanning Pledge these students become empowered to take charge of their own health, and become advocates for safe skin-care."
Since its inception, Brigham and Women's Hospital Department of Dermatology has been a sponsor of MFNE and Your Skin Is In. According to Dawn Ferrazza, executive director, "We are proud to partner with MFNE on this important program. The goal of Your Skin Is In, to educate teens and young adults about the dangers of tanning and the importance of early detection and prevention, is a goal we strongly support and we're delighted to help spread the message."
In addition to acting as an annual sponsor, Brigham & Women's staff members annually get involved with Your Skin Is In by calling schools throughout New England to inform them about the program and encouraging them to register.
A core part of the Your Skin Is In program are the stories told by young melanoma survivors. MFNE's speakers travel to schools throughout New England relating their personal melanoma experiences. As a result, thousands of teens across New England have been inspired to sign the No-Tanning Pledge.
Meghan Rothschild of Boston is one of the Your Skin Is In organizers as well as a key speaker. A dedicated tanner throughout her teens, she was 20 years-old when she was told that she had Stage II malignant melanoma. She underwent an agonizingly painful operation that resulted in eight lymph nodes being removed and she has had more than 20 subsequent operations to remove pre-cancerous moles. Rothschild has told her story in graphic detail to thousands of teens across New England, with stunning results.
For the 2013 Your Skin Is In program, MFNE has broadened the reach of the teen pledge-drive with an online component designed to welcome the general public. By logging onto www.mfne.org
, anyone from the general public aged 9 to 90 can learn the facts about tanning and take the no-tanning pledge. After watching a new video entitled "Exposed," where melanoma survivors including Rothschild share their stories, members of the public can take the no-tanning pledge and add their name to a growing list of community members who have pledged to save their skin.
"We are excited to bring the larger community into our Your Skin Is In programming this year," Girard said. "While it is important to educate teens in their schools and colleges about the dangers of tanning, melanoma can strike at any age and we hope community members of all ages will log on, watch the video, and take the pledge."
For more information about the Melanoma Foundation of New England and the Your Skin Is In program, visit www.mfne.org