“Wiseheart Saves the Dawn” is a new e-book geared toward children that teaches sun safe habits. Available on iTunes and Kindle for free, this collaboration between the Environmental Protection Agency’s SunWise Program and the Children’s Melanoma Prevention Foundation is an innovative way to reach the tablet generation.
Wiseheart is the story of a curious and courageous boy from the Cahto Indian tribe in the land now known as northern California, who dared to confront his tribe’s dark secret and in so doing made a remarkable discovery. This story has been adapted from traditional tales to teach another important lesson – sun protection.
Coolibar asked the founder of CMPF, Maryellen Maguire-Eisen RN, MSN, to tell us more about the book, where the idea stemmed from and what these two prestigious organizations hope results from publishing this new e-book.
Tell us about yourself and CMPF.
Every year over half of American children experience sunburn and millions more go tanning indoors. Sun protection education is needed to teach children about the hazards of overexposure to ultraviolet radiation.
I have been a nurse for over thirty years working in the area of oncology and dermatology. In 2003, I founded the Children’s Melanoma Prevention Foundation because I was concerned about the rising rates of melanoma and the association with overexposure to UV rays. Our mission is to teach children and their caretakers safe and proven methods of sun protection and skin cancer prevention. Our vision is to prevent skin cancer one child at a time. Our foundation endorsed the SunAWARE acronym in 2007 and developed the SunAWARE school curriculum in 2011. We provide classroom programming in Massachusetts teaching over 25,000 students annually. We have developed multiple resources for students and teachers to use in conjunction with this curriculum including books and videos.
Tell us about the EPA SunWise Program.
SunWise is a free environmental and health education program that teaches children and their caregivers how to protect themselves from overexposure to the sun. Through the use of classroom, school, and community components, SunWise seeks to develop sustained sun-safe behaviors. This book is one example of how SunWise partners with organizations in the community.
How did this partnership with the EPA SunWise Program come about? Are you working with them in other ways?
The EPA SunWise Program provides a toolkit, free-of-charge, for educators that includes lesson plans and resources for classroom teaching. I really liked the curriculum and used many elements of it in the development of our SunAWARE Program. I have promoted the SunWise Curriculum to other nurses nationally by inviting the SunWise team to speak at nursing conventions and meetings that I chaired. The Children’s Melanoma Prevention Foundation and the EPA SunWise Program are members of the National Council on Skin Cancer Prevention. We convene biannually to strategize with other members on educational, legislative, and research initiatives. CMPF has always found the SunWise Team to be loyal partners in our mission to educate children about sun protection.
Why was this book created? Who is the audience and what’s the key message?
I have been writing children’s books that teach children about sun safety, along with Mary Mills Barrow, for the past five years. Two of our publications, Lake Vacation and Pretty Prom, won the 2009 American Academy of Dermatology Gold Triangle Award. I thought that the Wiseheart tale, from the SunWise toolkit, would be a wonderful story to expand into a new book. I started writing the draft and then handed it over to our Advisory Board member, Jane Shanny, an English teacher and writer, to complete. We then contracted an artist to create lively illustrations that depict the key elements of the story. Once the draft was close to completion, we contacted the SunWise Director, Linda Rutsch, to see if they might partner with us on the publication and distribution of the book. As always, they were eager to partner on this educational endeavor. The audience is children ages 8-12 and the objective is to educate and motivate readers about the importance of sun protection for all people. We chose to publish it electronically because of ease of distribution and ability to provide it for free.
Is this book different than other sun protection books for kids? How?
I think that the book is different from other sun protection books in that it touches on the imagination of children and provides a frame of reference that sun protection is important for everyone. The hero can be a role model for all children in that he is resourceful, independent, brave, caring, and imaginative. He tries to make the world a better place for his people.
How long has this been in the works?
The book has been in the works for over three years. A final draft of the story was completed in August 2012 and the illustrations, by Laurie Sigmund of Sigmund Design, were completed later that same year. We hired Ugly Dog Publishing in 2013 to develop the electronic publication and to arrange for distribution. They worked with Amazon, Barnes and Nobles, Apple, and Kobo to distribute the book.
What are your feelings now that “Wiseheart Saves the Dawn” is finally available?
I am really pleased that we have yet another resource available to teach children about the importance of sun protection. It is incredibly gratifying to see the hundreds of books downloaded each month and realize that this project is truly getting into the hands and minds of children. We hope that this posting will further help publicize the availability of our latest sun protection educational resource.
Is there anything else you wish to share with us?
We hope to continue to develop resources for children and their caretakers that promote sun safety and help prevent skin cancer. Please visit us at www.melanomaprevention.org to find out more about our organization, download a book, or donate to the cause.