Many high school students are preparing for their upcoming proms by spending time in tanning beds. But students at one school in eastern Iowa are pushing to “Ban the Tan.” Alexis Peterson, a junior at Vinton-Shellsburg, helped organize the campaign that includes posters throughout the school building.
“We are trying to raise awareness about tanning and how bad it is for you,” Peterson said. According the Center of Disease Control, using a tanning bed is especially dangerous for younger people. The CDC says those who begin tanning before the age of 35 have a 75% higher risk of the most serious skin cancer – melanoma. Peterson and fellow Vinton-Shellsburg student Hunter Vogt are encouraging students to sign a pledge to stay out of tanning beds.
“You go out and you tan maybe once or twice for prom every year and say, ‘oh, it’s not going to affect me.’ But it doesn’t affect you right now, it will affect you 30 years from now, when you have kids,” Vogt said. “We’re not trying to force you to not tan. We’re just trying to get you to see how bad it is for you,” Peterson added.
Heather Kalous, a physical education teacher at Vinton-Shellsburg, says skin cancer is one of the most common cancers among young adults in the United States. “I’m a cancer survivor, as far as basil cell skin cancer, so for me it’s important for the kids to know,” Kalous said. “I was a tanner when I was in college and I was a lifeguard, always out in the sun, didn’t always wear sunscreen…and now I am paying the price for that.”
More than 50 students had already signed the petition as of last week. Peterson said they won’t regret it.) “I (went) to prom my freshman year and my sophomore year and I never tanned for them. I had just as (much) fun with pale skin,” Peterson said. Vinton-Shellsburg’s prom is scheduled for April 28.
By Allison Speck, KCRG-TV, Cedar Rapids