The American Lung Association's Open Airways For Schools Program NYC

(August 27, 2012)

As we approach the beginning of a new school year in New York City the American Lung Association of the Northeast looks forward to the 17th year of partnership with the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, bringing the Open Airways For Schools® (OAS) program to NYC school children.  This highly successful partnership has trained over 2700 school nurse as OAS facilitators resulting in over 50,000 children graduating as asthma experts.

OAS is a school-based, child-centered asthma self-management curriculum for children with asthma aged 8 to 11.  The lessons are taught in a small group setting, up to ten children, they are interactive and fun, empowering children to speak with adults and to detect the warning signs of asthma.  The program consists of six 40 minute lessons with topics including; what is asthma, trigger identification, recognizing symptoms, understanding asthma medications and doing well in school.

In 2008 approximately 475,000 (11%) children in New York State had current asthma, and they missed more than 1.9 million school days*.  According to the centers for Disease Control’s Asthma’s Impact on the Nation report asthma rates among black children are as high as 16% and 16.5% for Hispanic children.  Nationwide 1 in 5 children went to the emergency room for treatment for asthma in 2009.  Asthma costs our nation $56 million per year.

Education for a partnership in care is one of the Four Components in Care outlined in the National Institutes of Health Expert Panel Report 3 (EPR-3):  Guidelines for the Diagnosis and Management of Asthma.  The EPR-3 states “Asthma self-management education improves patient outcomes and can be cost effective.”  The key educational messages highlighted in the report are integrated into the lessons taught in OAS.

The OAS curriculum and teaching tools are complete and easy to use including standardized training for all facilitators; as a result the quality and consistency of the program remain high.  OAS is approved by the National Association of School Nurses and has been awarded a Health Education and Research Award by the National Asthma Education and Prevention Program.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recognizes OAS as a proven effective program for childhood asthma management.  

Facilitators completing the training maintain the certification for a three year period.  As a nationally recognized program these facilitators have the ability to effect children’s asthma management skills in any community they work.  

To find out more about Open Airways for Schools in New York City contact Liz D'Imperio, Director of Asthma Education, American Lung Association of the Northeast, telephone 917.210.5641 or email edimperio@LungNE.org