skip to main content
Canadian Federation of
Medical Students
Main page content

SPF Kids

What is your initiative? Can you provide a brief description for our readers?

Our initiative, SPF Kids, is a youth-focused educational program designed to raise awareness and improve knowledge about skin health and sun-protective behaviors among elementary school students. In particular, we aim to deliver a skin-health education with a holistic approach, bridging gaps between the social and clinical aspects of skin disease. We also aim to incorporate an EDID lens by acknowledging the diverse backgrounds and experiences of individuals affected by skin disease and providing accessible and inclusive education that represents diverse skin tones. By conducting interactive workshops, we engage young minds with fun activities and valuable information, helping them understand the importance of skincare and sun safety. The initiative also serves as a platform to collect data on the effectiveness of skin health education, contributing to research on preventative health strategies.

What motivated you to start this initiative? What local/global need were you seeking to address? Does this need hold special significance for you?

AThe motivation behind SPF Kids was the recognition of a significant gap in skin health education within our local schools. Despite the increasing concerns around skin diseases and the rising incidence of skin cancer globally, we observed a lack of comprehensive educational programs targeting young children — a group highly receptive to learning and adopting new health behaviors. The global need to prevent skin diseases and educate our youth about skin health safety is undeniable. We also recognize the importance of holistic education, highlighting the physical, mental and social impacts of skin disease. Especially in this target age group, reversing the potentially negative attitudes toward skin disease can reduce misunderstandings about skin that often lead to poor relationships with peers, including teasing and bullying, and negative mental health outcomes. For us, this mission is deeply personal, as we aim to empower the next generation with knowledge that can lead to reduced stigmatization, healthier lives and potentially reduce the global burden of skin-related health issues.

How did you start up the initiative? What resources or supports were you able to rely upon? What were some of the obstacles you faced, and how did you overcome them?

SPF Kids began as a small-scale project initiated by a group of medical students passionate about public health education. We began by designing an evidence-based workshop presentation in collaboration with

dermatologist Dr. Mohannad Abu-Hilal, ensuring the content was age-appropriate and engaging. Our university provided initial funding and resources, while local schools expressed interest in incorporating our workshops into their health education programs. One challenge we faced was creating content that resonated with diverse student populations, which we addressed by including multicultural perspectives and personal case studies in our material. Gaining the trust of parents and educators required transparent communication and demonstrating the value of our program, which we achieved through pilot workshops and soliciting feedback.

How did things go/how are things going? What’s next for this project?

The response to SPF Kids has been overwhelmingly positive. Students have engaged enthusiastically with the workshops, and teachers have reported noticeable increases in students’ understanding of skin health. The initiative is expanding, with plans to scale beyond our initial scope and reach more schools across the region. The next step involves formalizing SPF Kids into a sustainable program with long-term funding and integrating our research findings into broader public health strategies to enhance skin health education nationally.

What advice or guidance would you give to others seeking to start a similar inititative? Would you be willing to provide contact info, for posting to the CFMS website?

Our key piece of advice is to start with a clear mission and be ready to adapt. Engage with your target audience early on to understand their needs and tailor your initiative accordingly. Collaboration is crucial – partner with experts and stakeholders who share your vision. Don’t underestimate the power of grassroots movements; local support can be the springboard for wider impact. Finally, perseverance is essential! Challenges are inevitable, but they are opportunities for growth and improvement.

Team Members