The Truth About Sunscreen

With summer approaching, many of my clients are asking me if sunscreen is beneficial or harmful. I wanted to give you an overview so that you can decide for yourself which product to use.

There are two types of sunscreen, mineral sunscreens which include ingredients like zinc oxide or titanium dioxide which actually create a physical barrier to the sun. There are also chemical sunscreens, which use a variety of chemicals that include oxybenzone, avobenzone, octisalate, octocrylene, homoslate and octinoxate.

New research by the Environmental Working Group has found that the chemicals used in sunscreens are endocrine disruptors, and may interfere with thyroid and hormonal processes within the body. One of those chemicals, Obybenzone, is linked to reduced sperm count in men and endometriosis in women. The Center for Disease Control found Oxybenzone in 96% of the population.

The Environmental Working Group tested over 1400 sunscreens and discovered that 40% were listed as potentially contributing to skin cancer and only 5% met their safety standards.

Most sunscreens block the body’s ability to manufacture vitamin D, statistically 75% of the population is deficient in vitamin D, and this deficiency is linked to a higher risk of cancer and heart disease.

The Journal of Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics reports that “sunscreens protect against sunburn but there is no evidence that they protect against basal cell carcinoma or melanoma. Skin cancer rates are rising 4.2 % annually. Despite the push for more awareness about sun exposure, the incidence of skin cancer, especially melanoma, is rising dramatically.

Mineral sunscreens are considered a safer option. Look for non-nano zinc oxide. Below is a list of the sunscreens that are considered safe by the Environmental Working Group.

  • Alba Botanical Mineral Sunscreen

  • Badger Mineral Sunscreen

  • Babyganics Sunscreen

  • Jason Mineral Sunscreen

  • Burt’s Bee’s Sunscreenhere is a safer option

  • Bullfrog Sunscreen

  • For the full list go to

Written By: Marlene Dickinson
Director of Wellness/Holistic Wellness Coach

katelyn cross
Manchester Prep: Why We Focus on More than the Grades

When I reminisce back to my best memories from Elementary, Middle and High school, most of them are experiences shared with friends. Of course, I remember the academics and learning different skills but for most of us we think back to social interactions and friendships we made.

Over the past three years at Manchester Prep we have focused on developing strong relationships among our students in hopes that many wonderful memories will be created. Our formula for making Manchester Prep a successful and exciting place to be begins with the bonds that students form with their peers.

One of our strengths as a program is the importance we place on collaborative work. The best type of learning occurs when classmates work together and master concepts as a team. It is an invaluable component of our program.

When I was in Kindergarten our school had a program where each Kindergartener was “buddied” up with a 5th grader in the school. We had the chance to eat lunch with our buddy, do a monthly learning activity and enjoy a recess together. Those memories are highlights of my elementary school years.

As our program has grown we have stressed the importance of peer mentoring. Just recently one of our High School students was helping our middle school students with their social studies project. These types of interactions are equally as meaningful as any social studies unit being learned. Very frequently we have our Columbian or Argentinian students tutor and teach other students who are just learning Spanish. How awesome it is to have them as resources in our classroom each day? And to reciprocate, our English speaking students help them to speak English more fluently. This type of collaborative learning is what makes our classroom so special.

Our goal at Manchester Prep is to help each student reach their goals academically and socially. Our students’ academics are easily measured and assessed. We can look at grades and read papers to evaluate a student’s understanding of a subject. We can also look around the classroom and see our students working together in multi age groups and feel confident that they are growing socially as well as academically here at Manchester Prep.

So come take a walk over and visit us at Manchester Prep! There is never a dull moment, and it’s always a good day!

Written By: Claudine Prokopis
Director of Manchester Prep

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My Best Memories Growing Up...

Some of my best, most fond memories from my childhood was going to our town's summer camp in Burlington Mass - good ol’ Camp Simonds at Simonds Park. So many imprints left on my mind, like the counselors green tee shirts, morning meeting a huge sing-a-longs, a spoof on the copa-cabana. Yes, I was 6 or years old and everything was new, but so much fun we had in this golden summers. I remember swimming in the pool, capture the flag games in the pine trees wooded area at the camp, back then we played dodge ball on the tennis courts. So many fun days, and I even remember my favorite counselor, John. I idolized him, so much older than me (maybe 16 years old) he was fun and would run the games with us, and got know each of us. When we have our staff orientation here at MAC every summer, I always tell the new recruits that story and I always tell them that they too have the ability to positively affect a camper this summer, and it is easy to do, just be open to the kids, have fun with them, talk to them, what you do will impact their summer for the summer or negative.

I remember my first baseball coach, for whatever reason we did not hit it off, and he made us run laps around these cones as a form of negative reinforcement. I don’t remember anything else about baseball, but I surely did not stick with it too long after that. I always share that story with our tennis coaches here at the club too, as we always need to use fitness as a reward and not as punishment and the way we frame activities on the court will lead to positive or negative consequences.

The majority of my summers from 9 and up were spent at our local swim and tennis club, 3 courts, a big pool and playground and club house. Pretty simple set up, but I loved that place. I would drive my bike their every morning as my parents were both working in the summer and my days were filled with playing tennis with my friends. The summer was the time that I really improved as I had the time to devote to being on the courts, and although they did have some lessons in the afternoon, taught by a wonderful teacher, the late Bev Hansen, I already had 4 or 5 hours of Tennis under my belt by the time that organized lessons rolled around. My big brother Steven was one of the best tennis players at the club at that time and there was a time that he taught lessons there too. I remember his drill, single line on the singles sideline, forehand on the run, and try to hit it in the trash can for a coke! Classic stuff.

At MAC, I have been running this summer camp since 2001 (believe it or not) and I am always thinking back to those long sun filled days that we had growing up, and I always try to re-create those elements here for my own kids that attend this camp and for all the kids that we have coming through. Being a kid in summer is like a time warp, perfect days just flow back to back each one so pregnant with possibility, the days last longer when you’re a little kid. Maybe it’s the lack of responsibility or the newness of life growing up, but those times get imprinted in us (at least for me) more perfectly than other periods in our lives. As we approach some hopefully long stretches of sunny, warm and let’s throw some hot days in here too, I hope some drag on for you and your kids and I hope you get some of those golden summer days that will leave a positive imprint this summer.

You can check out our MAC Summer Camp options HERE. Contact Program Registration if you want to sign up or have any questions!

Written by: Dave Colby
Summer Camp Director / Director of Tennis

katelyn cross