; Who Says Texas Kids Can’t Play Outside In The Summer?
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Press Release

Who Says Texas Kids Can’t Play Outside In The Summer?

BCBSTX playground shade structures help keep kids active, cool and safe during skin cancer detection and prevention month

May 14, 2012

DALLAS – The American Cancer Society (ACS) estimates that 4,020 Texans will be diagnosed with melanoma skin cancer this year.  To help protect vulnerable children, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas (BCBSTX) is building shade structures over some of the playgrounds it has helped build in Dallas, Houston, Austin and Abilene.

“Last year, hundreds of local volunteers helped us build each of these playgrounds, so we know they are desired and appreciated,” said Eduardo Sanchez, BCBSTX chief medical officer. “But because of dangerous UV rays and the all-too-familiar Texas summer heat, the playgrounds need shade for the neighborhoods’ children.”

“The best way to prevent adult melanoma skin cancer is to start at an early age,” said Maria Clark, ACS regional vice president. “If children do not wear sunscreen, tightly woven clothes or play under shade structures such as these, they could easily develop the most common cancer among young adults.”

The non-profit organization KaBOOM! collaborated with BCBSTX to build the playgrounds in underprivileged communities across the state. Because most families in these neighborhoods have lower-than-average incomes, many parents lack the resources to provide their children with a safe place to be physically active.  

“We are dedicated to saving play for children by working with terrific partners like Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas to achieve our vision of a great place to play within walking distance of every child in America,” said KaBOOM! founder and CEO Darell Hammond.

“We are truly blessed that Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas selected our organization to provide a shade structure for our new fabulous playground,” said Toni Brown, executive director for the Alliance for Women and Children in Abilene.  ”Their commitment to healthy children goes beyond the importance of play and exercise to include UV protection and cancer prevention. With the extreme weather we experience here in West Texas, this shade is vital to the families who play here. We are excited and proud to partner with KaBOOM! and BCBSTX again!”

“Given the intensely hot summer we experienced last year, we can really appreciate the value of adding shade structures from both a comfort and health standpoint,” said Chris L. Simmons, executive director for Cornerstone Community Development Corporation in Dallas. “We applaud our partners, Blue Cross Blue Shield and KaBOOM!, for returning to provide shade structures for the hundreds of neighborhood children who can now play safely in our playground, even if we have a repeat of last year’s weather conditions.”

“Houston Can Academy is dedicated to educating children about being healthy,” said Carol Wentworth, director of child care operations for Texans Can Academies.  ”We are very proud to have partnered with Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas as well as KaBOOM! to build a play space for children; and we are extremely grateful that we have been chosen to receive a shade structure for the playground. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas works to increase awareness about obesity and sun exposure and we are thankful to be able to extend the awareness through play in our program. Active play has been decreased for children at school and we hope to increase the amount of time the young children can play outside.”

While shade generally blocks harmful UV rays, the American Cancer Society still encourages people to wear tightly woven clothes, sunglasses, wide-brim hats and SPF 15 sunscreen (or higher) for when they are not covered by the shade.

About the American Cancer Society:
For nearly a century, the American Cancer Society has worked to save lives and end suffering from cancer. With more than three million volunteers worldwide, we fight for every birthday in every community. As the nation’s largest non-governmental investor in cancer research, the American Cancer Society has contributed more than $3.6 billion to help people stay well, get well, find cures and fight back. To learn more about us or to get help, call us any time, day or night, at 1-800-227-2345 or visit cancer.org.

About KaBOOM!:
KaBOOM! is the national non-profit dedicated to saving play. Children today spend less time playing outdoors than any previous generation, a fact that is having disastrous consequences on their health, achievement levels, and overall well-being. To fight this Play Deficit, social entrepreneur Darell Hammond founded non-profit KaBOOM! in 1996 in Washington, D.C. with a vision of creating a great place to play within walking distance of every child in America. Since then, KaBOOM! has mapped over 89,000 places to play, built more than 2,000 playgrounds, and successfully advocated for play policies in hundreds of cities across the country. For more information, log on toKaBOOM.org.

About Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas:
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas -- the only statewide, customer-owned health insurer in Texas – is the largest provider of health benefits in the state, working with nearly 40,000 physicians and 400 hospitals to serve 4.8 million members in all 254 counties.  Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas is a Division of Health Care Service Corporation (which operates Blue Cross Blue Shield plans in Texas, Illinois, Oklahoma and New Mexico), the country’s largest customer-owned health insurer and fourth largest health insurer overall.  Health Care Service Corporation is a Mutual Legal Reserve Company and an Independent Licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association.  
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The Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association is a national federation of 37 independent, community-based and locally-operated Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies that collectively provide healthcare coverage for more than 105 million members – one-in-three Americans.  For more information on the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association and its member companies, please visit bcbs.com. We encourage you to connect with us on Facebook, check out our videos on YouTube, follow us on Twitter and check out The BCBS Blog, for up-to-date information about BCBSA.