This prom season, thousands of high school students will be noticed for what they are not wearing -- a bronze tan from the beach or the tanning salon.

These high school students, as well as college students, signed a no-tanning pledge in which they promise to not intentionally tan or visit a tanning salon before their prom -- or, for college students, before their spring break.

The Melanoma Foundation of New England launched the initiative in high schools three years ago to raise awareness of the dangers of tanning.

Melanoma is the deadliest form of skin cancer and the second most common cancer in young adults ages 15 to 29. And using a tanning bed before turning 30 increases a person's risk for skin cancer by 75 percent.

"We know that the UV rays in tanning beds cause cancer," Amy Mason, events manager for the foundation, told AOL News. "We thought that this was a fun way to get students involved before their proms or spring breaks."

Young Woman Tanning
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High schools and college students have recently signed a no-tanning pledge that includes no visits to a tanning salon.

The pledge outlines the risks of tanning. The student then signs his or her name to the pledge, which reads, in part:

"I realize that by getting a tan I am sharply increasing my chances of developing melanoma, which can be fatal if not caught in time. I have read the "Facts of Tanning" and understand the dangers of tanning beds and lying out in the sun."

The pledge sheet tells students that if they still want to look tan, they should try a self-tanning product, but should still wear a SPF 30 sunscreen because most self-tanners don't have sun protection.

The foundation awards two $1,000 prizes to the schools with the highest percentage of pledge takers and the highest number of pledges. Typically, Mason said, the schools put the money toward the prom, but it's up to the school. College students who take the pledge are entered in a raffle for prizes such as bus trips to New York City, pizza parties and cash.

Earlier this week, the foundation named Waltham High School in Waltham, Mass., one of this year's winners. Heather Metallides, the health educator at the school, attributes the school's success to her students' hard work. The students posted signs all over school, set up a pledge drive in the cafeteria for two weeks, and approached students at lunch tables to educate them about the risks of tanning and encourage them to sign the pledge.

Metallides said she sees a change among her students.

"I do think they're getting it," she told AOL News. "Kids are coming in showing off their spray tan, and the spray-tanning place says they've never had so many kids coming in. To me, that's success."

Before becoming a health teacher, Metallides worked as a respiratory therapist in a hospital. One of her patients was a 21-year-old woman with melanoma.

"I was tanning, and I had no idea [of the risks]," Metallides said. Since then, melanoma awareness has become a personal project.

She admits there are probably some students who didn't honor the pledge. "Some kids probably signed it and then made the wrong decision, but it has increased awareness."

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