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Paris High student promotes sun safety to 1st graders

Paris High sophomore Shikha Prakash gave a presentation — and sun hats — to hundreds of 1st graders at Aikin Elementary late last week promoting awareness to the dangers of UV rays and skin cancer. Ms. Prakash gave sun hats to all the 1st grade students in multiple colors for boys and girls and also provided adult sun hats to their ten different teachers.

IMG_5913The presentation was part of the sophomore’s ‘Operation: Save Your Skin’, an independent Future Problem Solvers’ project that the student has taken on. She was joined by Willy the Wildcat, the school’s mascot, as well as the Paris High drum line and cheerleaders.

The first graders were very entertained, while also learning some sun safety tips. Ms. Prakash had prepared a slide show and a song and dance, going along to the tune of the ‘Hokey Pokey’, teaching the kids ways to protect themselves from the sun.

She launched the project in December with a free skin cancer screening at Texas Oncology in Paris. Since then she has given presentations at Rotary and has plans to provide school teachers with curriculum-based skin cancer awareness materials for their classrooms.

Ms. Prakash’s next step is a free skin cancer screening at a clinic in Bogata. Be on the look out for this young lady and her project. What started as a high school Future Problem Solvers’ project, has now turned to a full fledged community awareness outreach program. She is the daughter of oncologist Dr. Chris Prakash (an eParisExtra columnist) and was also Miss Teen Paris.

Prakash says that she believes she can make a difference with her project by raising awareness. Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the U.S., however is the most preventable form of cancer also. 1 in 3 Texans are estimated to develop skin cancer in their lifetime.

As part of her project, Miss Prakash also plans to do the following:

– Educate the community about skin cancer prevention using pamphlets, poster boards and advertisement.

– Present her project to schools, local organizations and at numerous community events.

– Provide local schools with UV monitors to take precautions on high UV days.

– Raise funds for sun shade structures to be constructed over school play areas and picnic areas.

– Hold an annual skin cancer screening event for the community.

– Involve local health care providers in raising awareness of skin cancer.

– Provide an informational booth center at the local city pool.

– Collaborate with local retail malls and health businesses in providing and promoting sunscreen products and sun protective clothing wear, along with informational pamphlets to customers.

– Talk to the city council about having an annual ‘Save Your Skin Day’ for the community.

– Discuss risks of tanning with local tanning salons.

– Incorporate ‘skin cancer education and prevention’ in community schools’ curriculums.

– Make an informational DVD and present it to various schools.

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