In older age, many Albinos such as myself suffer with skin damage of various kinds and our risk of skin cancer is high. This happens because we did not have the benefit of ‘anti sun burn’ remedies as children.
In New Zealand’s harsh sun it’s important to ensure children are kept safe and comfortable as they play. Equal access to school and community play grounds is a basic right for every child. There needs to be adequate sun shade built into all open space play areas where people with fair complexion can have refuge from the sun’s damaging rays.
Such protection was not available to me playing at school growing up in northern Southland 65 years ago. Despite some initial steps from the Ministry of Education to regulate it now, it continues to be inexcusably lacking for this generation of children. Prevention of sun damage as children is a common sense measure. Myself and many of my friends are suffering the consequences now.
Access to safe play environments should be a prime consideration in facility planning and development. I would like it to become mandatory under an Accessibility Act for every school and early childhood facility to evidence ‘Sun Safe’ practices and ensure provision of adequate open space sun shaded play areas. Such regulation needs to be enforced without School Boards having the option to allocate funding for ‘Sun Safe’ areas to other activities.
This is my access story, it is one of many. I'm sharing it because I want a law that puts accessibility at the heart of an inclusive Aotearoa New Zealand.