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Protective Moves

That's what Emily Ladendorf and Chandra Dudley decided after learning all about the harmful effects of ultraviolet rays.

It seemed logical to the girls that students should wear sunscreen to protect themselves— and illogical that their school district in Ballwin, Mo., requires children to bring a prescription or a note from their parents in order to slather up with protective lotion under the watchful gaze of the school nurse.

So the 5th graders are lobbying the 21,000-student Rockwood school district to change its ways.

"Kids spend a lot of time outside, even at school, and so are susceptible to skin disease later in life," they wrote in a letter to Superintendent John Oldani.

The girls studied the effects of ozone depletion and the resulting dangers of ultraviolet rays from the sun in a program for gifted students that they attend at the Center for Creative Learning once a week.

They also learned that the district lumps sunscreen in with over-the- counter drugs such as aspirin or cough medicine and requires it to be administered by the school nurse—only with a note from parents.

The girls suggested that students bring a permission slip from home at the beginning of the year and be allowed to put the lotion on without a nurse present.

"We are prepared to present some skin-cancer statistics to show how urgent a matter this is, and would be happy to make a presentation for the school board," wrote the girls, who prepared a PowerPoint presentation in class to back up their argument.

Jeff Arnett, the district's communications director, said a district committee is "probably going to make some slight revision to the policy" to allow more liberal sunscreen use.

Linda Smith, the coordinator of the Center for Creative Learning, said that the center tries to "challenge [students] not to end with content, but with initiatives."

—Vanessa Dea

Vol. 20, Issue 21, Page 3

Published in Print: February 7, 2001, as Take Note

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