Bring Allergy & Asthma Awareness to Your Child's School - Be an Advocate!

  • Allergy & Asthma Awareness Month launches this May 2008. This is a project spearheaded by the Allergy & Asthma Foundation of America (AAFA for short), one of the premier asthma/allergy education and support organizations in the U.S. and one of Healthcentral.com's partners.


    It's in coordination with World Asthma Day on May 6th.

     

    The intent of these events is to improve public awareness of asthma triggers and allergy triggers, treatment methods, and more. Despite the fact that more than 20 million people have asthma, 9 million of them kids, public knowledge about asthma is fairly limited.

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    The AAFA, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, National Institutes of Health, and Global Initiative for Asthma are all doing what they can to increase awareness of asthma, but I want to suggest today that parents of kids with asthma can take the bull by the horns and do their part to spread the word about asthma and allergies in your children's schools.

     

    Why?

     

    Because increasing awareness will make the world a safer place for your child.

     

    So, what can you do? I'm here with some answers! Let's look at some fairly easy and free ways you can do your part.

     

    Seven Ways You Can Increase Allergy & Asthma Awareness

     

    1. Meet With Your Child's Teacher

    There are a number of ways that allergy & asthma triggers can be eliminated from the classroom. Your kid's teacher may not even be aware that certain things can create problems. Share the EPA's Teachers' Classroom Checklist from their Tools for Schools Kit, as well as the Teachers' Backgrounder. These are short documents that cut to the chase, identifying potential problems & telling how to get rid of them.

     

    2. Open a Dialog With the School Nurse

    Your child's school nurse should be your health partner in the school, being a knowledgeable health professional. The EPA's School Nurse Backgrounder and Checklist will provide a valuable starting point for your conversation. You might also ask the nurse if he/she is aware of the AAFA's "Asthma Management and Education Program," for health professionals.

     

    3. Meet With Your Parent Teacher Organization to Arrange an Awareness Event

    Together, parents can do more. You don't have to act in isolation. Help organize an awareness event at your school -- perhaps a appreciation luncheon for school officials and staff? Or maybe an awards assembly for people who are making a positive difference in terms of allergy and asthma in your school? Or an educational workshop? Parents of kids with asthma know a lot about asthma, its triggers and how to manage it. Share that knowledge.

     

    4. Increase Awareness Among Your Child's Classmates

    Kids don't like to feel different and can be embarrassed by allergy and asthma symptoms or using an inhaler or nebulizer. But kids DO like to feel special. So, help your child feel special while increasing other kids' knowledge about asthma by reading books about asthma or watching a video together. Books about asthma include Taking Asthma to School, Zoo Allergy, and The ABC's of Asthma, by Kim Gosselin. A great video about asthma is the Arthur® video, "Buster's Breathless."

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    5. Design an Allergy/Asthma Awareness Bulletin Board

    Talk to the principal and get permission to design a bulletin board display in a high-traffic area of the school, such as the hallway near the front office. Post pictures of asthma and allergy triggers, pointers on how to eliminate triggers at school and warning signs (symptoms) to be aware of, as well as urging prompt action for any emergencies.

     

    6. Work to Establish Clear Policies on Managing Asthma & Allergy Emergencies in Your School

    If such policies already exist, great! But the fact is, many schools have not yet caught up with laws passed in recent years that allow kids to carry their own inhalers and even Epi pens (for allergy emergencies) & use them without supervision. There are "right to carry" laws in most states these days. Find out what your state mandates and then make sure your school officials, school nurse, and teachers are on board. Serious complications such as asthma attacks or anaphylaxis can often be avoided or stopped in their tracks when kids get fast treatment.

     

    7. Advocate to decrease school bus diesel exhaust

    Diesel exhaust can be a powerful asthma trigger for sensitive children. Make sure your school staff are aware of the Clean School Bus campaign to reduce unnecessary school bus idling and other advocacy actions.

     

    These are just a few of the ways you can get involved this May to help your child have a healthier school experience and live a life without limits. You'll find more resources to aid your campaign at these websites:

    Good luck with your advocacy, and please come back here and let us know of your success stories, either by commenting on this post or by posting your own sharepost of your experiences.

Published On: April 28, 2008