The American Skin Association Re-ups Support for the SPOTS Program

The American Skin Association Reups Support for the SPOTS Program image

SPOTS (Sun Protection Outreach Teaching by Students) is a community outreach program designed to teach students from preschool through high school about the importance of early detection and prevention of skin cancer.

The American Skin Association (ASA) is renewing its support for the SPOTS (Sun Protection Outreach Teaching by Students) program. 

SPOTS is a public health outreach educational program aimed at both elementary school students and young teenagers.

The comprehensive program, taught by medical school students, teaches early detection and prevention measures for skin cancer to increase knowledge and hopefully affect young people's attitudes and behaviors towards sun protection. SPOTS, run by Dr. Sofia Chaudhry of St. Louis University and Drs. Laurin Council and Lynn Cornelius of Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, aims to educate medical/allied health students in sun protection methods, teaching strategies, and the basics of cutaneous malignancies in order to better prepare them for educating and treating current and future patients.

"ASA is proud of the work the SPOTS program is doing to educate future generations on skin health. This worthwhile partnership is part of our mission to educate young people on the importance of sun safety and caring for their skin and we are excited to continue our support," says ASA Chairman Howard Milstein in a news release.

With ASA's support, the SPOTS program expanded its teaching platforms by developing a virtual curriculum to allow these critical efforts to continue during the global pandemic. This new platform has in turn allowed the program to move into new communities, growing its reach.

It is available through both a live Zoom virtual experience and a self-guided voice-over version which can be utilized in a school setting or at home reaching many more children and teens.

The program has also achieved many other goals in the last year including completing the development of a "take-home" curriculum with a SPOTS educational pamphlet including a Skin of Color teaching points, a Spanish language version, and a Skin Cancer in Skin of Color module.

Recent program outreach includes the Boys & Girls Clubs of Sarasota and DeSoto Counties in Florida where 1,000 educational brochures and t-shirts and 100 SPOTS posters were sent for their students. SPOTS has also expanded to more diverse, urban school settings populated by more students of color, such as urban neighborhood schools near Columbia Medical School in New York and many others. The program is currently partnering with dozens of university medical school programs around the nation.

Members of the SPOTS leadership team recently published their findings in an article titled, "Program Sun Protection Outreach Teaching by Students (SPOTS) — Evaluating the Efficacy of Skin Cancer Prevention Education for Adolescents" in the Journal of the American Society for Dermatologic Surgery. Also, in the Spring of 2021 SPOTS animated video on sun protection received the bronze award in the Digital Health Media category of the Digital Health Award.

"We are grateful to ASA and its Education Council for their continued support of SPOTS. We look forward continued growth of this critical program," says Dr. Cornelius. The SPOTS program is designed to present the facts about skin cancer and sun protection to teenagers in an interesting and engaging way, allowing them to make informed choices regarding future behaviors. The program has the potential to reduce the incidence of skin cancer in the future, increase awareness about the importance of sun protection, and educate the next generation of physicians in a subject that is often not a required clinical block in U.S. medical school curricula.

Over the past 25 years, there has been a notable increase in the incidence of melanoma in children, particularly in adolescents. ASA's mission includes championing skin health among children by educating youth and parents on the importance of skin health and sun safety. "We are excited to continue our partnership with Dr. Cornelius and the SPOTS program and look forward to the program's continued growth," says ASA President Dr. David Norris.

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