Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Melanoma Resources, Part Two: Melanoma Education Foundation

Melanoma is an important topic to discuss with children and adolescents. Over the next few blog posts, I will be posting about different melanoma resources I've used in my middle school classroom. When detected early, the survival rates of melanoma are quite high; when not detected early melanoma can become deadly. Many teenagers are not aware of the dangers of melanoma!

The Melanoma Education Foundation is a local nonprofit organization here in Massachusetts "devoted to saving lives from melanoma." The M.E.F. provides classroom materials to teachers, maintains an easy to navigate website that is loaded with information, and also conducts speaking engagements for local businesses.  The M.E.F. has helped provide resources to schools all across the country in all fifty states, and is a must-see resource for any health educator.
One benefit of the information provided by the M.E.F. is that it can be taught in one or two classes (depending on how long the classes at your school are), and therefore can be implemented as needed into any health education curriculum. Focusing in early detection and prevention, the classroom materials involve many formats: class discussion, brief videos, Power Point presentations, take home quizzes, etc. The bookmarks are quick and helpful resources, and if you don't use them (contact the M.E.F. and they will send you some) a bookmark is a great project idea for the students. 
The M.E.F. website also serves as a nice introduction to those who may not be familiar with melanoma, and it could even be used as a web quest. I'm a big fan of the graphics on the M.E.F. website, and have used them to supplement my own lessons on melanoma in eighth grade health education. The animation on mole "evolution" (scroll down here) has been helpful for students to realize that the mole is growing deeper into the skin in addition to the visible growth.
The Melanoma Education Foundation is doing a fantastic job in accomplishing its mission statements. You may visit their online store to scan some of their products, although we have received free bookmarks in the mail from them in the past. In working towards their goal of "saving lives through education," the Melanoma Education Foundation helps fill a vital knowledge gap in the lives of teenagers all across the country.

NOTE: I am in no way affiliated with the Melanoma Education Foundation, although I do use some of their resources in my classroom.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Melanoma Resources, Part One: Mollie's Fund App

Melanoma is an important topic to discuss with children and adolescents. Over the next week, I will be posting about different melanoma resources I've used in my middle school classroom. When detected early, the survival rates of melanoma are quite high; when not detected early melanoma can become deadly. The first post deals with a new phone app relating to melanoma; next time check back for a local Massachusetts organization relating to melanoma. Other topics include curriculum resources and lessons developed by Mollie's Fund and a third organization, too.

Teenagers live in a world of technology, surrounded by apps designed for seemingly any task. Many apps have been created relating to nutrition, fitness, and other health topics. Mollie's Fund has recently developed an app designed for self skin checking for melanoma, a simple procedure that can help save lives. "Have You Checked Your Skin Lately?" (labeled "Mollie's Fund" on my phone) is available for the iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, and Android, and is one app that I will be telling my students about.

From the Google Play Store
I downloaded the app on my Droid Incredible and gave it a whirl this week. It is nicely designed and easy to navigate; it is void of advertisements and has a nice layout. I don't like apps that waste space with advertisements or unnecessary features, so I like the simplicity of this app. The app's homepage has buttons linking to four separate sections of information: About Mollie's Fund, 5 Step Skin Check, ABCDE's of Moles, and How to Protect Yourself. There is also a skin-check calendar discussed below.

Mollie's Fund provides some basic information about their organization within the app, and an option entitled, "5 Step Skin Check" walks you step-by-step through a five-step process used to detect moles on your body. Pictures are included with each set of instructions, and it's easy to swipe through the steps, which are broken down so that they are easy to follow.

The "ABCDE's of Moles" is a nice little resource that can help users differentiate between benign moles and melanoma lesions. Pictures are provided showing both benign and melanoma lesions, and definitions are paraphrased in one word summaries, too. "How to Protect Yourself" highlights six ways you can protect yourself from the sun. Although they seem like common sense, I know that many teenagers (and a lot of adults!) don't practice these simple (yet effective) ways to help prevent skin damage from the sun. The app provides a skin check calendar with twelve squares, one for each month of the year. Users simply check off each month as they complete a skin check. Users can even check an option for a skin check reminder; although I have only had the app a few days I can assume that it will remind the user once a month to perform a skin check.

From the Google Play Store
All in all, I think this app is great, and I like that it's basic with less clutter than other apps. With that being said, I think a few minor adjustments could enhance the app for all users. In the past, I have handed out a mole map to students during our melanoma unit. The mole map allows individuals to keep track of any moles or other changes to their skin that they may find, which makes it easier to detect any changes that may occur. If I were the app developer, I might also make another button with the skin check calendar, instead of having it at the bottom as it is now. Despite these recommendations, this is a great app and one that is fulfilling a definite need in relation to health education. I can easily point my students in the direction of this app so they may continue to apply skills that they have learned in health class. Technology continues to allow students to connect what they learn in school to their real lives.

A skin check is a simple tool that can save lives. Apps like the one created by Mollie's Fund provide users with a quick, simple, and effective way to check their skin and keep track of their skin checks. It's definitely worth a download!

Download "Have You Checked Your Skin Lately? (Mollie's App)"
Google Play (formerly the Android Market)
iTunes Store

NOTE: I am in no way affiliated with Mollie's Fund; I simply came across a copy of their "The Dark Side of The Sun" DVD in college and have occasionally used it during our own melanoma units.
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