LITTLE ROCK — The Arkansas Department of Agriculture’s Forestry Division is accepting applications for the 2021 Shade Trees on Playgrounds (STOP) program through Oct. 8.

Arkansas schools needing additional shade on playgrounds can find the STOP program application and full criteria of qualifications online at bit.ly/3ugR1hE.

Selected schools receive up to five shade trees, mulch, watering supplies and planting guidelines. Teachers will receive a full curriculum about the benefits and care of trees.

Officials with the Arkansas Department of Agriculture’s Forestry Division will help plant the trees, chosen to fit the region and conditions of each playground, this fall.

The STOP program began 19 years ago to help lower adult skin cancer risk by reducing childhood exposure to direct sunlight on school playgrounds.

Applicants may be any public or private Arkansas school serving grades pre-K through 12, or a non-traditional educational facility such as a juvenile detention center, residential childcare institution, or long-term care facility that has a playground.