Valley students take action to prevent skin cancer and spread awareness

Students teach peers about the Melanoma Awareness Project

PALM DESERT, Calif. - Students at Xavier Preparatory High School in Palm Desert were given tips on safe sun habits and how to spot melanoma Wednesday. It's called the Melanoma Awareness Project, or "MAP" and it's students teaching students about skin cancer.

There were no local programs like it until William Lavin brought the project to the Coachella Valley when he was a junior at Palm Valley School in 2008.
Since then, MAP has educated more than 10,000 high school and middle school students across the desert.

"He wanted to do something that made a big difference in the community," said Lavin's mother, Tammy, vice president of MAP. "One-third of the population in California will get skin cancer in their life. It's becoming more prevalent with young people."

Melanoma is preventable and 95 percent to 100 percent curable if detected early and treated.
"I've had a lot of friends who have had melanoma, so it's a big deal to me," said Cody Coleman, an 11th-grade volunteer for MAP.

"It's students teaching students. You can see a special connection when they get this information from another student. They really listen," said Tammy Lavin.

Each student leaves the presentation with sunscreen, a self-examination sheet and a bracelet, the colors of the sun, to remind them to protect their skin and remember MAP.
"These presentations are helpful to remind me how dangerous melanoma can be," said Faris Velazquez, an 11th-grader at Xavier Prep.

"It really can save a lot of lives in our Valley, definitely feeding them information to save their life or their family member's life," said Coleman.

For more information on safe sun habits and Melanoma Awareness Project, visit www.desertmap.org

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