Shade: A weapon against skin cancer, childhood obesity

August 9, 2011

Shade does more than protect children's skin. A growing number of advocates say it also may help kids stay more active.

At a time when one-third of children are obese or overweight, a movement is growing to provide more shade at playgrounds, parks and pools, both to reduce future cancer risk and promote exercise, says Richard Louv, co-founder of the Children & Nature Network, a non-profit that encourages kids to get outside.

"It's right under the surface, but the momentum has been increasing," says Colleen Doyle of the American Cancer Society. "To really boost a movement like this, it's going to take parents speaking up."

Across the USA, communities are working to make school play areas greener, with more trees, shrubs and natural shade, Louv says.

In Northern California, a grass-roots group called Canopy is planting 1,000 trees over the next four years at inner-city schools in East Palo Alto, says development director Elliott Wright. He was able to enlist corporate giants such as Microsoft, Yahoo and REI to donate money and labor for a project in which volunteers planted 200 trees at schools.

"You go to a playground where there is no shade, and you just can't be out there on a hot day," says Sid Espinosa, director of citizenship at Microsoft and mayor of Palo Alto. "It's not good for your health." 

Read the entire article in USA Today by clicking here.