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SunWise School Program at Fray Bartolome de las Casa, San Juan, Puerto Rico

Remarks of Governor Christine Todd Whitman
Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
at the
Fray Bartolome de las Casa
San Juan, Puerto Rico

December 11, 2002

Thank you, Ms. (Betziada) Jiminez, for that welcome.

It's great to be here with you at Fray Bartolome de las Casa.

Earlier this fall, EPA celebrated Children's Health Month.

But for those of us who care about America's kids--like your teachers and parents--every month is children's health month. That's why we at the EPA are trying to make sure parents, teachers, and kids know about some of the things they can do to help protect the health of America's children.

I know that here at this school, your parents and teachers take that responsibility very seriously.

That's why, for example, next month right here in San Juan, EPA and the Puerto Rico Department of Education will be offering training classes to teachers to teach them about a program we have at EPA called SunWise.

SunWise is designed to help kids learn how to be safe in the sun.

As we all know, kids would rather be outside than inside.

I believe that one of the most important things kids can do to stay healthy is to get outside and enjoy the great outdoors.

I love to be outside--whether playing tennis or golf, riding my bike, kayaking, or just walking my dogs.

But as much as I enjy being outside, I know that it's also important to protect myself from the harmful rays of the sun. There's an old saying that too much of a good thing isn't good for you--and that's true of sun exposure.

So we have to take other steps to make sure we don't get too much sun.

After all, overexposure to the sun can cause more than just a few days of discomfort.

It can, over the long run, lead to skin cancer, vision problems, and other threats to your health.

And the time in your life when you get your greatest exposure to the sun is right now--the first 18 years of your life.

That's why it is so important that you take a few simple precautions to help prevent overexposure to the sun.

First, wear a hat when you're outside.

Second, wear clothing that covers you up.

Third, wear sunscreen with at least an SPF 15 rating.

Fourth, wear sunglasses--the kind that block ultraviolet rays.

Fifth, take advantage of the shade.

By doing these simple things, you will protect yourself from the harmful rays of the sun.

And remeber--even on cloudy days, you have to be careful, because the rays that cause sun damage come right through the clouds.

Our SunWise School Program gives teachers and students more information about the things I've talked about today.

The program also includes some fun and interesting activities you can do to learn more about this important issue.

I'm going to make sure that your school receives enough of these kits for every classroom.

Along with your parents and teachers I want you to be safe in the sun.

So enjoy the time you get to spend outside--after school and after you've finished your homework--and be sure to remembe to protect yourself from the harmful rays of the sun.

Thank you. Now, I am pleased to introduce an EPA video, entitled Tres Amigos, which will show you and your families how to protect your health from environmental hazards around the house.