It doesn’t look like a regular camera, and the pictures it takes aren’t like normal selfies, but public health officials hope it will give students something to think about when they consider getting a tan.
On Tuesday, students and staff from Carlton Comprehensive Public High School lined up to have their photos taken by the special cameras, which revealed just how much damage ultraviolet (UV) rays does to their skin.
The annual event has been held intermittently for more than five years, and it presents health educators with an easier path to helping youth understand the connection between UV rays and skin cancer.
“You try and give people more of a visual idea,” explained Public Health Nurse Carolyn Strom, who helped oversee Tuesday’s event. “Having this UV camera is helpful, because at least people can actually see (the results), rather than just having us tell them. It’s easier to get that point across.”
While students and staff are keen to line up and get their photos taken, the results aren’t always appealing. Photos will often show pale white patches of skin dotted across the face, identifying the areas receiving the most damage.
Although the pictures aren’t always fun to look at, Strom said they are slowly but steadily helping Saskatchewan residents become aware of the dangers.
It’s not a moment to soon either. Saskatchewan has one of the highest rates of skin cancer in Canada, largely due to residents spending more time in the sun and more time on tanning beds.