A Community-Wide Approach to Reduce Sun Exposure

Photo of a shade structure in Baytown, Texas

A shade structure in Baytown, Texas. Photo courtesy of Elizabeth Caballero.

Cancer prevention and control is a cornerstone of The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center’sexternal icon mission to eliminate cancer. Aligned with that mission, MD Anderson established Be Well Communitiesexternal icon™, a place-based strategy for cancer prevention and control, working with communities to promote wellness and reduce cancer risks.

Baytown, Texas was selected as the inaugural Be Well Community. The Be Well™ Baytownexternal icon initiative focuses on five target health areas, one of which is sun-safety. In line with the evidence-based skin cancer prevention recommendations included in The Guide to Community Preventive Services,external icon Be Well Baytown uses a multi-component community-wide approach to improve sun protection in a variety of settings.

Notable Successes from the Be Well Baytown Initiative

Center-Based Child Care Settings

Harris County Public Health identified three child care centers that will implement Outdoor Learning Environment (OLE!external icon), a statewide initiative in Texas to improve outdoor spaces at child care settings.

Primary, Middle, and High School Settings

The Goose Creek Consolidated Independent School District created and implemented a school district-wide sun-safety policy to reduce sun exposure and increase sun-safety behaviors among teachers, staff, and students. The school district also delivered sun safety educational programming spanning multiple grade levels—

  • Kindergarten and first grade: Ray and the Sunbeatablesexternal icon®, a sun-safety program developed by MD Anderson.
  • Second through fifth grades: Be Sunbeatable™, co-developed by MD Anderson and Scholastic, Inc.
  • Sixth through eighth grades: The Sunwiseexternal icon Program.
  • Ninth through twelfth grades: Sun safety education (such as SunSmart Americaexternal icon) directed to athletics and band departments.
  • Installed sun shades at one Baytown primary school with more efforts planned in future years.

Outdoor Recreational and Tourism Settings

  • Enhanced outdoor environments throughout the city of Baytown, including the installation of 10 sunscreen dispensers and five sun shades in city parks and 10 sunscreen dispensers at Lee College, a public community college.
  • Conducted annual skin cancer prevention trainings for City of Baytown Parks and Recreation employees.
  • Provided sun-protective clothing and wide-brimmed hats to all City of Baytown Parks and Recreation employees when working outdoors.
  • Delivered educational forums to Lee College faculty, staff, and students to increase knowledge on sun safety and skin cancer risks.

Since its inception, Be Well Baytown has made notable progress in its skin cancer prevention efforts with more coordinated efforts planned in future years of the initiative. Collaboration with multiple key stakeholders in Baytown, Texas has been a vital component in addressing MD Anderson’s long-standing goal of reducing the incidence of skin cancer and melanoma. Be Well Communities is an initiative of the cancer prevention and control platform,external icon part of MD Anderson’s Moon Shots Programexternal icon™.

For more information about Be Well Communities and Be Well Baytown, please visit www.mdanderson.org/BeWellCommunities.external icon