Success Stories

UV Radiation Protection
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Overexposure to the sun’s rays can be harmful to a person’s skin, eyes, and immune system. To help protect the children of Mecapaca and Pucarani in Bolivia from the sun’s UV radiation, protective hats were distributed while an educational campaign was simultaneously carried out. To help ensure adoption, the hats, which were designed and manufactured in Bolivia, were incorporated into the school uniform.

uv radiationsGirls in Palomar, Bolivia, wear the "PAHEF" hats

Introducing the Hats

PAHEF provided a grant to Fundación para el Desarrollo de la Ecología, which was supported by PAHO, to distribute more than 5,000 hats while also educating children and their parents about protecting themselves from UV damage. To spread the message throughout the countryside, TV and radio interviews were given by the project coordinator that further explained the hats’ purpose and how they would benefit children.

Additionally, parents and professors attended workshops, conducted in Spanish and Aymara languages, to help them become champions of the hats and encourage the children to wear them.

Keys to Successful Implementation

There was wide acceptance to wearing the hats although younger children were more likely to wear them than children aged 9 to 11 years old.

Several activities were conducted to help ensure the success of the project. Twenty-four students were trained at the Santiago de Huata Teachers School to promote the project. The promoters then went to eight rural education units to perform awareness activities with students and teachers about UV radiation and how the hats offer protection.

In the district of Mecapaca, a workshop for teachers was held to help them become more informed about the project and how they could contribute to its success. Additionally, interviews and surveys were conducted to gauge the inhabitants’ perceptions of the project.

Findings

The project successfully informed the population about the dangers of UV radiation and how the hats could protect children.

It was found that overall adoption of the hats was higher:

• When teachers used them, too

• At small schools in rural areas

• In elementary schools

 
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