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Kelly Mill Elementary holds dedication for shade structure donated by local dermatologist, organization
Kelly Mill Shade
Dr. Alexander Gross with the Georgia Dermatology Center attends a small dedication ceremony with teachers and administrators at Kelly Mill Elementary School Tuesday, May 18, for a shade structure he helped to fund for students. - photo by Sabrina Kerns

Kelly Mill Elementary School held a small dedication ceremony after school on Tuesday, May 18, for an outside shade structure donated by the Georgia Dermatology Center and Georgia Society of Dermatology and Dermatologic Surgery.

Dr. Alexander Gross, with Georgia Dermatology Center, attended the dedication ceremony not only to remind teachers, students and administrators of the importance of protecting their skin from the sun, but also to thank them for reaching out for support.

A teacher at the school originally got in touch with the American Academy of Dermatology to apply for its grant program, hoping to receive a shade structure to put over outside tables for their kids, especially during the pandemic while they were spending more time outdoors.

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The AAD suggested asking for local sponsors to donate a shade to them through its Adopt-A-Shade program, which is when the teacher reached out to Gross. His practice and the Georgia Society of Dermatology and Dermatologic Surgery both contributed toward the donation, and the school now has a shade structure for one of its playground areas.

“We’re really happy and excited that you all have this structure for your kids, and I hope that they’re enjoying it,” Gross said during the dedication.

Gross said the reason he and other dermatologists in the area believe the AAD program is so important, especially for young kids, is because skin cancer is more common than many believe. He said 1 in 5 Americans get skin cancer, and 1 in 70 get melanoma.

He said that damage to the skin begins from a young age.

“If you’re a child and have a blistering sunburn, that increases your risk that you’re going to get skin cancer when you reach adulthood,” Gross said. “And the damage is cumulative, so every time you get a sunburn, you’re increasing your risk of getting skin cancer.

“So having a place where kids can be in the shade when they’re in school when they’re outside is very, very important, as are the other things like wearing sunscreen and staying covered up,” he continued.

He recommended that everyone, while they are outside this summer, be sure to wear a hat, sunglasses and SPF 50 sunscreen to keep themselves protected.