Gateway Pointe Elementary School students waiting to get picked up after school are getting some relief from the sun, thanks to a new, free shade installation.
The 20-foot-by-20-foot blue shade was installed last week in the pickup area at the front of the Gilbert school, which is in the Higley Unified School District.
Gateway Pointe received the $10,000 shade through a grant from the SHADE Foundation of America and Killer Shade, and is the first of 12 Valley schools that will receive a shade throughout the next year.
The shades are to help prevent skin cancer, as one in five children will grow up to develop the disease, said Noel McKee, a special projects manager with SHADE Foundation.
"Basically, we're just trying to benefit as many kids as we can," McKee said. "One million people in the U.S. will be diagnosed with some sort of skin cancer this year."
The SHADE Foundation was founded in 2002 by Shonda Schilling, wife of Curt Schilling, a former pitcher with the Arizona Diamondbacks who now plays for the Boston Red Sox. Shonda Schilling started the foundation after having problems finding the resources she needed for her successful battle against the skin cancer melanoma.
Along with the shade comes a commitment from Gateway Pointe teachers to integrate sun safety into their curriculum using the Environmental Protection Agency's "SunWise Program."
Joleen Costello, a former school nurse with Gateway Pointe, first applied for a grant for a shade because she was concerned about how much time students spent in the sun while waiting for their parents, Principal Paul Murray said.
The school was not able to receive the initial grants, and when Costello left the school the Parent Teacher Organization applied again.
Amy Priess, a volunteer coordinator with the school's PTO, said while the school's playgrounds are covered, there wasn't any type of shade in the parent pickup area.
"The kids actually spend more time standing in line waiting for their parents, and it was a concern," said Priess, who has two children at the school. "The students wait at the end of the day around 4 p.m., and it's right at the heat of the day. Teachers were carrying around umbrellas, and it wasn't possible for us to buy the shades ourselves."
After four years of applying for the grants, the 4-year-old school is finally getting the shade they need, Priess said.
"It's just a huge release to be able to provide that for our kids and the teachers, too, who all stand out there in the heat of the day," she said. "We are grateful for what they have done for us."
New schools will now receive funding for canopies and shade structures from the School Facilities Board, although skin cancer issues were not the reason to include them, said Kerry Campbell, spokeswoman for the board.
The shade structures were adopted in February 2007 as part of new design elements for new school construction, which also include flooring, exterior lighting and landscaping, Campbell said.