Teens take stand against indoor tanning

Janine Workman PHOTO  MOLLY MCRAE and Kayla Degerness wear their “be tan free” t-shirts. The students are part of a group asking fellow students to pledge to a tan-free graduation this spring.

Janine Workman PHOTO MOLLY MCRAE and Kayla Degerness wear their “be tan free” t-shirts. The students are part of a group asking fellow students to pledge to a tan-free graduation this spring.

STUDENTS AT Terrace’s senior high school are taking a stand against indoor tanning, and all the dangers that come with it.

Students at Caledonia Senior Secondary School have teamed up with the B.C. Cancer Society on their Tanning is OUT campaign to encourage graduates to commit themselves to a tan-free grad.

And so far students are jumping onboard, 81 per cent of Cal grads have pledged to be tan-free when they receive their diplomas and attend prom.

Molly McRae and Kayla Degerness are two of the nine students leading the campaign, and while they are very pleased with the outcomes so far, they are not stopping yet.

“We are hoping to get 100 per cent,” McRae said.

The students had the month of March to convince peers to sign up,  and are in competition with eight other northwest schools in five communities.

“It’s important for people to make a promise to themselves and keep it,” McRae said.

To get peers on board the students embarked on a number of projects. They hosted a daily information booth, they visited classrooms, they built a public poster board to post pledges on and they created a video featuring students from the school.

“What’s to stop people from tanning if they don’t know what’s wrong with it,” Degerness said. “It’s five times more radiation than the sun.”

Megan Klitch, health promotion coordinator with the B.C. Cancer Society for the northern region, said the initiative is exceeding expectations.

“They are raising awareness about the dangers and the issues, and people are making really great choices,” she said.

“The Canadian Cancer Society is so proud of all grads who are making this commitment,” Klitch added. “They are truly taking a stand against skin cancer.”

The teens also want parents to get on board by not buying their children tanning minutes.

Given the cancer causing effects of tanning, they compared the dangers of supporting tanning to that of purchasing cigarettes.

A lot of students didn’t want to get on board to start because their parents had already purchased them minutes, Degerness said.

According to Canadian Cancer Society even occasional use of a tanning bed before the age of 30 increases  a persons likelihood of skin cancer by 75 per cent.