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Scout Burke warns of sun danger

Rachel Burke has been at the Farmer’s Market educating about the dangers of the sun for three weeks, as part of her Gold Star Award project.

By James Kinneen
Hometown Weekly Reporter

From a shaded section of the Walpole Farmer’s Market on Saturday morning, July 31, Girl Scout Rachel Burke was looking to help the community keep safe from the sun by shining a light on its potential dangers. Her Gold Award Project, Sun Safety Initiative, sought to “educate students and community members about sun safety and skin protection to create a healthier Walpole.”

The Gold Award is the highest Girl Scout award, deemed by the group’s website as “the mark of the truly remarkable—proof that not only can she make a difference, but that she already has.” Consisting of eighty hours of community service and outreach, the award also requires a sustainability component.

To that end, on top of spreading knowledge at the Farmer’s Market, Burke spoke to seventh graders at Bird Middle School and presented a curriculum that could used to teach others. Burke, who would like to be a dermatologist in the future, explained that she felt strongly about reaching out to the younger generation, who she didn’t think knew enough about the dangers of the sun.  

“I am raising awareness on sun safety,” she explained, “I felt it was pretty unrepresented in the town because a lot of my friends really never wore sunscreen, and I really wanted to promote it, especially within the younger kids in the town.”

But Burke was smart enough to alter her pitch for the older crowd, making sure to mention how the sun can produce some early aging - both in person, and in the brochure she was handing out.

“I’m just telling people how they can protect their skin and trying to tell them that it can lead to different bad outcomes, like skin cancer and early aging, which nobody really wants. So, I’m mainly trying to promote that people should wear sunscreen. I’ve been at the Farmer’s Market; I believe this is my third time. I also did a presentation at Bird Middle School, where I talked with a seventh-grade class about skin safety from the sun, and how they can protect their skin. I’m really just raising awareness about the sun and trying to create healthy habits.”

While Burke said she didn’t have any personal connections to people impacted by skin cancer, she did mention that one troop member had a grandmother pass away from the disease. But while so far she’s been lucky, Burke wants everyone to understand how far-reaching the effects of the sun can be.

“I just want them to know the sun is always going to be shining, and that people really should be wearing sunscreen and taking the most precautions against the sun to create a better and healthier lifestyle," she explained. "I also want people to know sun safety is for everyone - it applies to everyone, no matter what skin color or age you are.”

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