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  • Sasha Anand

RAYsing the bar: how one Arizona teen aims to fight skin cancer through her nonprofit Rays Awareness


Rays Awareness envisions a future where healthcare access transcends socioeconomic barriers.


As a skin cancer awareness organization, they are committed to championing health equity and disseminating information on skin cancer while equipping marginalized populations with preventive skin care measures.


 

High school senior Sabrina Manero decided to found Rays Awareness after one transformative shift as a hospital volunteer, during which she helped a woman experiencing homelessness navigate the complexities of her nuanced health insurance company. During such an encounter, she recognized firsthand the disparity in healthcare access faced by marginalized populations.


This fueled her desire to empower underprivileged communities to reclaim control over their health, compelled to action by her firm belief that medical accessibility should not be contingent upon one’s socioeconomic status.


 
"Initially, I was unsure of how I wanted to direct my vision, but I eventually settled on aiding skin cancer prevention and detection efforts due to my mother’s harrowing battle with skin cancer. "

Growing up with a mother who received a new melanoma diagnosis each month, I slowly witnessed my mother’s body evolve into a mural of dermatological design decorated with impressions of surgery, radiation, and photodynamic therapy.


As such, I become intimately cognizant of the importance of sun safety, especially since skin cancer is largely preventable. This experience allowed me to finally establish the mission of my non-profit: championing health equity by raising awareness about skin cancer and providing preventive care measures to marginalized populations (and settle on our witty name— Rays Awareness).


 

In recognition of the record-breaking heat in Phoenix, Arizona, which exponentially pronounces the vulnerability of low-income communities, she began her efforts by distributing hundreds of hats, sunscreen bottles, and water to individuals experiencing homelessness downtown.


"Since this population’s lack of resources, combined with limited access to healthcare, exacerbates their susceptibility to skin cancer, it felt right that this is where I begin my journey."


 

Since then, with the help of a robust support system, comprised of business partnerships, generous donors, and medical professionals Sabrina has expanded her nonprofit to involve 200+ student volunteers (spanning 25 states) who have hosted over 40 donation drives and fundraised nearly $10,000, all of which has enabled the distribution of 9,000 ounces of sunscreen and 3,000 sun-protective items to various humanitarian assistance organizations.


In the near future, Sabrina seeks to collaborate with Title 1 schools to implement our dermatologist-approved skin cancer prevention and detection lessons within the school curriculum. By doing such, she hopes that she can equip young students with the knowledge necessary to protect their vulnerable skins from developing a life-altering cancer.


Learn More About Rays Awareness: https://raysawareness.org/


Follow Rays Awareness on Instagram [@raysawareness_]: https://www.instagram.com/raysawareness_?igsh=MW5kenQ0YXYzNGFrNg==

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