On Wednesday, May 17th, Impact Melanoma’s Practice Safe Skin Manager, Laurie Seavey will, along with Gigi Simmons, the Interim Development and Partnership Program Coordinator of the City of Gainesville Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs Department, unveil 50 sunscreen dispensers throughout the City of Gainesville, Florida. Said installation is a preemptive effort to help prevent the widespread incidences of skin cancers due to UV radiation from exposure to the sun. The initiative, which began in January of this year, was brought to fruition by a great team of advocates, which include Dr. Skidmore of Florida Skin Cancer & Dermatologist Specialists, PA, Gainesville Mayor, Lauren Poe, UF Health College of Dermatology, as well as anonymous sources. Taking this proactive measure to help foster education and tactile preventative measures as they relate to the development skin cancer place Gainesville on the forefront of being a City who are ahead of the curb when it comes to such important, social health issues.
Initially brought to the attention of Simmons by Adam Ping, a local physician assistant in the field, the wheels were in quickly in motion to bring sunscreen-dispensing units to the City.
“I’m a physician assistant who has been working in Dermatology for the past few years. My main job is in the detection and treatment of skin cancers. These cancers are the direct affect of damage caused by the sun. The incidence of Melanoma is on the rise and I have personally seen this to be true and occurring in people at a younger and younger age. I truly feel that the best way to help in the fight against skin cancers is in education. While on vacation in Boston I was visiting the Parks and came across a sunblock dispenser. I used it and thought that this is something that should be as common as drinking fountains at the parks in Florida. I’m sure I’m not the only parent who has been at the parks and thought to myself that only a short time in the sun won’t be a big deal, although I’m here to tell you now – it is!”
It’s about availability and raising awareness. I would love to see education programs in school, and the encouragement of sunblock use during recess. I work at a small office that is anonymous in our sponsorship because we truly just want to help make a difference and advocate in the education and prevention of skin cancers.”
IMPACT Melanoma sat down with Simmons to discuss how the entire initiative came to fruition and what it means for the City.
IMPACT: How’d you learn about these dispensers and of Impact Melanoma?
Simmons: I learned about the dispensers from one of our City’s residents, Adam Ping. After visiting Boston and experiencing the utilization of their city-wide free sunscreen dispenser installations, he thought it would be a great idea to bring the dispensers to our City. I met with Adam and did extensive research about skin cancer and Melanoma. The purpose of researching the idea of installing “free” sunscreen dispensers was to indicate if this is something that our community could benefit from.
IMPACT: What was the process like for you with regard to engaging with IMPACT Melanoma and figuring out the logistics of whether or not this was even possible?
Simmons: The engagement process with IMPACT Melanoma was seamless. Laurie Seavey was a great communicator as she navigated me through the process. She was very diligent and detailed when explaining the necessary steps that would need to be taken in order to make this process a success! I had confidence and believed in this initiative, therefore I knew if I could get my Assistant Director, Michelle Park equally excited, logistics would become a minor detail.
IMPACT: Whom did you pull in from the community to help with obtaining these machines?
Simmons: I reached out to Florida Skin Cancer & Dermatology Specialists PA, an Anonymous Skin Protection Advocate and UF Health College of Dermatology.
IMPACT: What, in your estimation is the importance of having these dispensers in place? Feel free to share any personal experiences with combating the suns UV rays, etc.
Simmons: The importance of having sunscreen dispensers in our parks and facilities is vast. The installation of sunscreen dispensers will allow everyone, no matter color, age, or economic status, the opportunity to use “free sunscreen.” For our City to take the lead and become stewards of this great community, it’s an awesome service and accomplishment I feel proud to be involved with.
IMPACT: What excites you on a personal and “business” level about seeing this project through to fruition?
Simmons: I’m excited about this project because it has the potential to save lives. Anytime I have a chance to impact in someone’s life (in a positive way), It makes my job fulfilling and gratifying! On a personal level it allows me to interact with people that are not aware of the dangers of skin cancer. This project has given me the opportunity to educate a certain population that would have otherwise been clueless and to see it come into fruition is awesome!
IMPACT: What sort of impact does this project leave on your community and what are next steps in assuring that they are properly utilized and taken advantage of?
Simmons: I’m not sure of the impact this will have but I’m hoping it’s a lasting one! I’m also hoping that this initiative will change the way our residents and visitors look at overexposure to the sun and use precautionary methods such as applying sunscreen!
IMPACT: What’s your battle cry sound like with regard to getting surrounding communities in your area, and across the globe, to adopt a similar proactive approach to helping combat skin cancer with these dispensing devices?
Simmons: Cancer DOES NOT DISCRIMINATE. Apply sunscreen today – Tomorrow maybe too late!
To learn how you to can get involved, contact us today!