CASE STUDY

Sun Safe Albany

Albany, NY
Albany, NY Sun Prevention with IMPACT Melanoma
Program

Practice Safe Skin

Location

City of Albany, MA

Hesan Waly, a New York State Graduate Fellow working with the Cornell Cooperative Extension Albany County, was alarmed at the rising rates of skin cancer including melanoma in Albany County and set out to develop a program to address this public health concern. She engaged community members on cancer screening and prevention and with her own research worked to organize stakeholders to address this growing health program in the Capital Region.

Stakeholders:

  • Albany County Department for Aging
  • Albany County Department of Recreation
  • Albany County Executive’s Office
  • City of Albany Department of Recreation
  • City of Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan
  • City of Watervliet
  • Cornell Cooperative Extension Albany County
  • County of Albany County Executive
  • Dr. Robert Shoss, Vice President of the New York State
    Dermatology Society

Partnering with IMPACT Melanoma

Researching possible solutions to the growing skin cancer rates in Albany County, Hesan discovered IMPACT Melanoma and learned about its Practice Safe Skin
program, a prevention education program that includes installation and maintenance of sunscreen dispensers.

She formed a group of sun safety advocates, including Laurie Seavey from IMPACT Melanoma as well as a Dr. Robert Shoss, a board-certified dermatologist practicing in the Capital District for nearly 47 years and Vice President of the New York State Dermatology Society. They developed a plan to raise awareness about the importance of protecting one’s skin from harmful UV rays as well as promoting sunscreen usage, branded Sun Safe Albany.

Recognizing the risk of developing skin cancer increases with age, Albany County Department of Aging Commissioner Deb Riitano was a champion for the initiative and provided funding for the first phase of the project. Garnering support from the City of Albany Department of Recreation, the Albany County Department of Recreation, Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan, and Albany County Executive Daniel P. McCoy, they moved forward with the first phase of their initiative.

Practice Safe Skin

Practice Safe Skin
Sun Safe Albany officially started in May 2023 (Melanoma Awareness Month) when the 1st sunscreen dispenser was unveiled at the Watervliet Veterans Memorial Park. Additional sunscreen dispensers were installed at 19 more parks and recreation sites throughout Albany County.

Practice Safe Skin sunscreen dispensers were installed and maintained at the following locations starting in 2023:

  • Beltrone Senior Center Outdoor Patio (Colonie)
  • Berne Town Park (Berne)
  • Capital Hills Golf Course/Pickleball Court (Albany)
  • Elm Avenue Town Park Delmar (Bethlehem)
  • Hoffman Park (Albany), Lincoln Park and Pool (Albany)
  • Mater Christi Park and Pool (Albany)
  • Mohawk River Park Pool (Colonie)
  • Paine Street Park (Green Island)
  • Pine Bush Preserve (Albany)
  • Ravena Village Park/Pool (Coeymans)
  • Ridgefield Park (Albany)
  • Six Mile Water Works (Albany)
  • Swift Road Park (Voorheesville)
  • The Crossings (Colonie)
  • Veterans Memorial Park and Pool (Watervliet)
  • Washington Park (Albany)
  • Westerlo Veterans Park (Westerlo)

The IMPACT

Sun Safe Albany is committed to providing prevention education programs with IMPACT Melanoma to address the health effects of exposure to the sun’s harmful UV rays. Access to free sunscreen is an effective way to encourage sun safe behaviors.

Thousands of sunscreen applications were dispensed in the first year of Sun Safe Albany.

IMPACT Melanoma recognized Albany County Executive Daniel P. McCoy for his outstanding leadership in promoting skin cancer prevention with the Sun Safe Leadership award, becoming the first county in the United States to receive a Sun Safe Leadership award. Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan was also recognized for her leadership and received a Sun Safe Leadership award for the City of Albany.

With Fellow Hesan now in medical school, a DIGA (Dermatology Interest Group Association) member has taken the baton to maintain the sustainability of Sun Safe Albany and looks to expand the program including reaching local farmers markets and outdoor workers at farms in the county.

Over 90% of skin cancers are caused by sun exposure. It is known that the regular usage of sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15 applied every two hours can lower your melanoma risk by 50%…I realized through conversations with community members that while skin cancer is largely preventable, sunscreen and sun protection methods are not always accessible.
Hesan Waly

Graduate Fellow, Cornell Cooperative Extension Albany County

Be SunSafe 365