Back in 2015, the Practice Safe Skin program was officially launched when Councilor Matt O’Malley helped us initiate the installation of communal sunscreen dispensers around the City of Boston. Over the years, we’ve expanded the reach throughout Boston, and under the guise of Councilor Erin Murphy, the program is as vibrant as ever with dispensers in 28 different public locations, and continually moves to progress forward. This year we’ve benefited from the partnership with New England-based non-profit WORK Inc. We had the great fortune of asking Councilor Murphy what the program means to her and what excites her about our recent developments and burgeoning prospects for the future!
How familiar were you with the sunscreen initiative that Councilor O’Malley put into action (what feels like an eternity ago)? How have you worked to help expand or refine the program?
I was thrilled when Matt suggested me to take over as the City Hall person for IMPACT. Matt and Mayor Walsh have played such an essential role in bringing sun protection education and sunscreen to the City. Boston has become a model city for the rollout and expansion of the program, and I hope to continue the great work.
Currently, I am working with IMPACT to add a dispenser in each neighborhood, so all our residents have free access to one of the best skin cancer protections—sunscreen.
I love the piece about getting WORK Inc. involved. Can you speak a bit about that involvement/partnership?
Work Inc. is a fantastic organization that deals with training placement for individuals with disabilities. So, I figured collaborating with WORK Inc. and IMPACT would benefit both parties, as WORK Inc. can staff individuals to build and install dispensers around the city with proper training directed by IMPACT.
How’d this summer go with the dispensers? Any feedback from folks who have taken advantage of their availability to report?
My office and I have spoken with many folks across the city to share their support for the program and some considerations that will further the program’s outreach and awareness.
For example, I spoke with representatives from BU regarding their interest in dispensers at select BlueBike stations. In addition, some other residents wanted a QR code on the dispensers themselves to share more info about the program and the other dispensers’ locations throughout the city.
What led you to connect with them? I understand you have a personal melanoma story, and if you’d like to share it, I know our audience would appreciate reading about it (but I respect your privacy, so don’t feel obligated to).
When I heard I would take over Councilor O’Malley’s sunscreen dispenser program, I was ecstatic! My father died of melanoma in 2010, so this is personal for me. I do not want any of our families or residents to deal with what I went through with my dad’s illness. I look forward to continuing public education & awareness around this important issue!
What’s your battle cry regarding proper skincare and the importance of spreading sun safe awareness? What’s the importance of an organization like IMPACT existing?
Melanoma is an urgent issue. Melanoma is becoming the most widespread type of cancer, and one person dies of melanoma every hour. It is deadly.
However, it is preventable through proper skincare! As a City Councilor, I want to emphasize the importance of spreading sun safety awareness to our residents. Through these dispensers, we can help our residents prevent severe diseases like Melanoma. All our residents must have free access to sunscreen, which is why I am pushing for more dispensers spread throughout the City of Boston.
For more information on our Practice Safe Skin program (and to bring it to your own community!), click here.