ST. LOUIS -- Along with tomatoes, beans and corn, a new structure in Saint Louis University's department of nutrition and dietetics' vegetable garden will be sprouting up soon.
|Participants in SLU's culinary camp toast a new shade structure that will be built in the dietetics garden.|
Young participants in the department's culinary camp, nutrition and dietetics staff and SLUCare dermatologists held a digging ceremony on July 21 to break ground for what will become a shade structure to provide refuge from the hot summer sun.
Through a special program that targets initiatives that protect and educate those who are 18 and younger about the dangers of skin cancer, the American Academy of Dermatology awarded a grant of $8,000 to SLU's department of nutrition and dietetics to construct the shade structure. The facility was designed with the assistance of Daniel Hellmich, principal and co-founder of Hellmich & Bichnese Architects.
Those who tend SLU's garden -- including young campers -- need protection from the harmful effects of the sun's dangerous rays, said Scott Fosko, M.D., chair of the department of dermatology at SLU and a SLUCare dermatologist.
"In providing a shade structure, we are protecting children at a critical time in their development, when early-in-life, harmful exposure to ultraviolet rays can lead to the later development of skin cancer, especially the most harmful and potentially deadly, melanoma," said Fosko, who attended the dedication.
"It also helps promote sun safety education. Whenever we can target our youth and provide some preventive measures for their health, we may see long-term benefits."
Counselors for the culinary arts camp already have adapted for their young campers a successful educational program that engages medical and masters in public health students in teaching teens about early detection and prevention of skin cancer. They teach camp participants about using sunscreen and taking other precautions to protect themselves from the sun.
The ultimate goal of both the educational program and the new structure, said Mildred Mattfeldt-Beman, Ph.D., chair of the department of nutrition and dietetics, is to decrease the risk for skin cancer for children and teens.
"The new shade structure will give them a place to get out of the sun as they learn important lessons that potentially can save their lives," Mattfeldt-Beman said.
The vegetable garden is a mainstay on the Medical Center side of campus, accessible to those who have disabilities. It is a living laboratory that teaches students of all ages the basics of gardening and reinforces the lesson that lettuce doesn't grow in the produce aisle of a supermarket.
It yields produce served in nutrition and dietetics' cafeteria, Fresh Gatherings, and herbs for the department's culinary and medicinal herbs class. And it is a respite for medical school students who farm their own plots of veggies to lend balance to their educational experience.
"The shade structure will add a new dimension to our garden," Mattfeldt-Beman added. "We have long been focused on growing the foods to create a healthier diet. Now with the new shade structure, we'll have protection from the sun to stay healthier."
Saint Louis University Medical Center offers a wide range of health professions education. In addition to having the first School of Medicine west of the Mississippi River, the Saint Louis University Medical Center includes the School of Nursing, Doisy College of Health Sciences, Center for Advanced Dental Education, School of Public Health, Center for Health Care Ethics and SLUCOR.