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Pilot project aims to combat skin cancer with free sunscreen via dispensers

New Westminster one of 4 test cities across Canada
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(Submitted photo)

A pilot project aimed at combating skin cancer by making sunscreen more accessible is coming to municipalities across Canada.

The four startup locations are New Westminster, B.C., Summerside P.E.I., Riverview, N.B. and Brooks, Alta..

The program is a collaboration between Save Your Skin Foundation, medical student Samuel Farag, BC Cancer, and support from the cities themselves.

Skin cancer is one of the most preventable cancers, so ensuring safety protectors such as sunscreen are accessible takes on added importance. Studies have shown incidence rates have gone up yearly, according to Save Your Skin founder Kathy Bernard, who indicated the issue is getting worse.

A stage four skin cancer survivor herself, Bernard wants to reaffirm the message it can be deadly but is highly preventable.

READ MORE: New B.C.-based technology may help diagnose skin cancer sooner

The municipalities are enthusiastic about participating in the project, which will involve automatic, touchless dispensers.

“Summers are becoming increasingly hotter and drier, and the health and safety of our community is always our number one priority, said New Westminster Mayor Jonathan Coté. “We are excited to participate in this initiative to ensure everyone has free access to sunscreen so our residents and visitors can protect their skin while enjoying our parks.”

The dispensers will provide free Health Canada SPF 30 certified sunscreen. In New Westminster, the dispensers will be available for public use at the Moody and Hume outdoor pools, Grimston Park wading pool and in the city parks/works yard for city staff members working outdoors.

Sunscreen is only one part of the overall strategy. Project organizers also recommend limiting your time in the sun when the heat is at its highest (between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m) and seeking shade.

For more information, visit the Save Your Skin Foundation website.

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