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Issue #13
July - November 2015
Features
Beneath the Mediterranean Sky
Maya Frenkel Tene / June 23 2015

Occasionally I share my childhood experiences and memories with my children. I have often told them about trips and vacations with family and friends. Every year we would go on a week's vacation at Mikhmoret. We'd go down to the beach early in the morning, swim, play, sunbathe, swim again, and build sandcastles for hours until sunset. There was no sunscreen at the time (maybe coconut tanning oil), and there was little, if any, awareness of sun damage. We often got sunburned, of course, sometimes even badly, and in the evenings our backs would be massaged with cold yogurt to ease the pain. It is more than likely that we are now seeing and feeling the damage caused to our skin and health, but back then it was so pleasant and enjoyable to spend all those carefree hours at the beach.

The sun is a source of light and heat, but it can also be a source of damage to our skin and body.
In Israel, where it is sunny for most of the year, the sun's radiation is strong and dangerous.
The sun is with us and our children wherever we go, throughout the day, virtually all year round. When walking to school or waiting at the bus stop, driving a car or riding a bus, in the kindergarten playground and schoolyard, on walks, and of course at the swimming pool and the beach, it is our constant companion.

   Photograph: Maya Frenkel Tene

Today we know that over-exposure to the sun is one of principal causes of malignant skin cancer - melanoma. Most of the damage from the sun's radiation is caused by exposure and burning, especially at a young age. Protection from the sun and preventing the damage it causes are important to everyone, especially children.

We often complain that our children are "glued" to screens, sitting for hours at a time in front of the computer, TV, and smartphone. However, when they do go outside to play in the sports ground, playground, or around the neighborhood, we are unable to provide them with the most basic and extremely important protection against the sun, since there is no shade in public spaces, sports grounds, and streets. So we're faced with the option of covering them up from head to toe, applying sunscreen, and compelling them to wear a hat - and then they will more than likely prefer to stay at home, because who wants to play basketball in a hat or sweat under layers of sunscreen? Or we can give in, send them on their way, and hope for the best.




Photograph: Maya Frenkel Tene

 

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