Sea Dogs take sun safety seriously

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PORTLAND — Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States, and while protection from the sun’s UV rays is important year-round, it’s especially important when being outdoors for longer periods in the warmer months.

That’s why the Maine Cancer Foundation, the Portland Sea Dogs Double-A baseball team and Portland’s Public Health Division are all working together to provide sunscreen dispensers at Hadlock Field, the Sea Dogs’ home base, along with handing out key information about skin cancer and how to prevent it.

“Sea Dogs baseball games at Hadlock Field are popular events in Maine, and the sunscreen dispensers will act as a sustainable tool for increasing sun safety and preventing skin cancer,” the cancer foundation said in a press release announcing the three-way partnership.

The Public Health Division’s specific role includes purchasing the sunscreen dispensers for Hadlock Field and developing promotional and messaging materials for the campaign, according to Amanda Hutchins, the program coordinator for the public health office.

“Portland Public Health and the Sea Dogs have created public service announcements to show at each game, and the city will (also) be creating signage for the dispensers, among other promotional components, such as social media posts and sun safety giveaways,” Hutchins said this week.

The public health office is using a $20,000 grant from the Maine Cancer Foundation to support the skin cancer campaign. It will purchase five sunscreen dispensers and the SPF 30 Brightguard Natural Sun Screen to go with them.

This particular brand of sunscreen is described as a “sport sunscreen that lends itself well to an active lifestyle and starts working as soon as it’s applied.”

Kristen Smith, the director of community engagement at the cancer foundation, said Sea Dogs staff will be responsible for keeping the dispensers full throughout the regular baseball season, which runs from April through September.

“We hope this project will serve as a preventative method for reducing sun exposure and preventing skin cancer for Sea Dogs spectators and staff through the regular application of sunscreen during peak UV exposure hours,” Smith said.” In addition, we see this initiative as an opportunity to educate the community about sun safe practices and the dangers of skin cancer.”

Hutchins said the partnership with the Maine Cancer Foundation and the Sea Dogs came about after the foundation approached the city last fall about reaching out to the baseball team and creating a unique opportunity for sun safety awareness campaign.

She said by providing the dispensers at Hadlock, “the hope is that attendees at the games will be more likely to use sunscreen. The PSAs at each game will also serve as reminders of the importance of protecting yourself from the harmful effects of the sun.”

May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month, which is why the Public Health Division hopes to purchase and install the sunscreen dispensers within the next couple weeks, Hutchins said.

Sea Dogs General Manager Geoff Iacuessa said he is “very excited to be teaming up with Portland Public Health and the Maine Cancer Foundation to provide this important service to our fans. Sunscreen (plays) an important part in keeping everyone healthy and safe while enjoying the great outdoors.”

Smith said each year, more than 350 Mainers are diagnosed with melanoma, but common- sense preventative measures, such as using sunscreen, wearing a hat and seeking shade between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. when the sun is strongest, can reduce harmful sun exposure for individuals of all ages.

“At the Maine Cancer Foundation one of our primary goals is to help prevent cancer in Mainers and skin cancer is one (disease) where preventative measures make a statistically significant difference,” she said.

Kate Irish Collins can be reached at 710-2336 or Follow Kate on Twitter: @KirishCollins.

Fans enjoying an early spring game at Hadlock Field, home of the Portland Sea Dogs minor league baseball team. Under a partnership with the Maine Cancer Foundation and Portland’s Public Health Division, sunscreen dispensers will be available at Hadlock throughout the regular season.