Huntington councilwoman helps protect residents from the sun’s rays

Huntington councilwoman helps protect residents from the sun’s rays

Councilwoman Susan Berland stands with the free sunscreen dispenser now at Crab Meadow Beach in Northport. File photo from A.J. Carter

As residents try to soak up the last few weeks of the sun’s rays, Huntington officials introduced a new program to help make sure the skin of their residents is as protected as possible.

Councilwoman Susan Berland (D) is leading a free sunscreen pilot program that kicked off at Crab Meadow Beach in Northport last week. The beach is now equipped with a sunscreen dispenser from the Melanoma Foundation of New England, a nonprofit that works to promote protecting skin from the sun. The dispenser is easy to use, similar to antiseptic dispensers, and is filled with organic, SPF 30 sunscreen.

“I believe that by providing this service to our residents we are helping them guard themselves from the sun, educate themselves on better sun protection and ultimately help the fight against skin cancer,” Berland said in a statement. “The importance of sunscreen is crucial and I’m hopeful that residents will take advantage of the free sunscreen now offered by the town.”

Berland said in a phone interview that she learned about the work the MFNE did through a constituent visiting Boston and wanted to bring the program to Huntington.

After the 2014 “Surgeon General’s Call to Action to Prevent Skin Cancer,” the MFNE went to work providing free sunscreen in public recreation areas across New England.

According to the 2014 report, skin cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in the United States, and most cases are preventable. Melanoma is responsible for the most deaths of all skin cancers, killing almost 9,000 people each year. It is also one of the most common types of cancer among U.S. adolescents and young adults.

Berland said she hopes the dispenser will help children enjoy a day at Crab Meadow Beach.

“A lot of time people damage their skin as children and teenagers, but it takes years for the damage to manifest,” she said. “I’d like to encourage people who don’t bring sunscreen to protect themselves for the future.”

The councilwoman said she wants to bring this program back next year and expand it by providing stations at more beaches and other recreational places. However, she needs to find the funding first.

Each dispenser costs approximately $665, $400 for the dispenser, $200 for the refill package and $65 for shipping. The first dispenser was purchased through the town, but Berland said any future dispensers would need to be sponsored and purchased by a business, organization or resident. Berland said she is hoping to get several sponsors between now and the beginning of summer 2017.

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