) July 29, 2007 -- A year ago they captured gold for their unique and innovative method of teaching skin cancer prevention. Today, The Cancer Crusaders Organization is inviting the world to see it for themselves.
The Cancer Crusaders Organization, an all-volunteer skin cancer education
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facility located in Utah, launched the "Only Skin Deep?"® Peer Educator's Training and Certification Program via an internet radio show - Conversations with Cancer in May 2006. The show, which garnered a prestigious Gold Triangle for Excellence from the American Academy of Dermatology, aired weekly to audience of 19-million worldwide via the Grapevine Talk Radio Network.
"We wanted to launch a pilot version our skin cancer curriculum to determine how effective it was; to glean feedback and discover ways to improve upon it so that we could then make it available to the masses," says Danielle M. White, co-founder and president of The Cancer Crusaders Organization. White wrote and developed the "Only Skin Deep?"® program in effort to actively recruit high school
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and college students. "I traveled with my friend Natalie when she was Miss Utah teaching more than 500 people about sun safety and took mental notes," White says. "I then thought back to when I was in school, and what tools and techniques helped me learn
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; what made learning enjoyable and meaningful. I took those factors in to account and decided to create a program that gave young adults opportunities to teach their peers about skin cancer."
And that is when the "Only Skin Deep?"® Peer Educator's Training and Certification Program was born.
The program, which includes a training manual, CD-ROMS, and other learning tools, combines traditional classroom learning with a strong hands-on service learning component which makes it interactive.
"I saw that there needed to be a better way to reach young adults, especially since they are the ones who will soon be entering the workforce, starting families, and engaging in community/civic leadership activities," White says. "They are going to be in a position to teach skin cancer prevention to the next generation."
So, White teamed up with the award-winning Grapevine Talk Radio Network, a leader in global internet talk radio, also based in Utah, and pitched the idea of having a weekly skin cancer talk show. The producers responded favorably to the idea, and once the show started gaining popularity among network listeners, White utilized it as venue to launch her pilot program.
"We had three local college students from Utah Valley State join me in the studio each week, and had another three students from different countries across the state tune-in live via grapevineradio.com, and turned the show into a distance education class; it was akin to a college course--just on the internet." White adds, "It was so much fun for me to teach skin cancer every week, and it was fun for the students and listeners, too. They would get so excited when they got the right answer, which would make their day and mine. It was an incredible opportunity for me to teach and work with the youth in this way."
Upon completion of the four month-long pilot course, students completed a final exam and evaluation of the program to receive certification as a peer educator. Maile Wilson, a junior at Southern Utah University, participated in the program to learn more about skin cancer as part of her platform for the Miss SUU Scholarship Pageant. "Skin cancer is in my family, and when I heard about this program I thought it was a great opportunity to learn more about skin cancer, and learn how to teach other people about it," Wilson says. "I learned so much more than I ever thought I would." Wilson's final exam--an essay on tanning--was featured in White's recent book.
"After the pilot program launched, I realized that this helped me make skin cancer prevention become more personal, meaningful, and relevant for young adults," White says. "And to keep young adults interested in skin cancer prevention, the message needs to tailor especially to them and their interests--they need to get something out of it; a sense of satisfaction. It needs to be hands-on and engaging." White, who is in her 20s, continues, "Listening to a dermatologist to apply sunscreen and not go tanning is valuable and important because they are the experts, and we invite them to be apart of the program, [but] the message takes on different, more interpers0onal meaning when it comes from someone you can relate to; a peer, a friend."
Since the "Only Skin Deep?" program launched last year, various melanoma foundations, schools, and even the AAD have expressed interest in utilizing it in their communities.
"I have been working on identifying the best method of making this program readily accessible to anyone interested utilizing, even universities that want to incorporate skin cancer prevention as part of their academic curricula; I wanted to evaluate the program and figure out ways to enhance it first so as to make it a truly valuable and effective tool," White says.
That said, The Cancer Crusaders Organization announces that the program will be made available in 2008. White's first book - ONLY SKIN DEEP? An Essential Guide to Effective Programs and Resources was published this Spring and debuted #2 on Amazon.com.
"While the new, revamped version of our original peer educator's training program won't debut until the beginning of next year, we invite people to take part in it now," White says. "We still have the original manual that students can use. In fact, a teenager--a pageant contest, in Arkansas is currently participating [through] using the original course manual and materials."
Students interested in participating in the original paper course version of White's peer education program are encouraged to contact The Cancer Crusaders Organization. To learn more about White's recent book, or to pre-order copies of her upcoming book, featuring the program, you can check out her Blog at http://onlyskindeepbook.blogspot.com.
The Cancer Crusaders Organization is a 501 [c]  public charity, founded by Danielle White and Natalie Johnson-Hatch, and serves as the proud home of the National Skin Cancer Awareness Symbol©. For more information, or to send a tax-deductible donation, please contact them at: PO BOX 2076 Provo, Utah 84603.