Greece Post: Class empowers children with asthma

(May 6, 2010)

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By Jessica Spies, staff writer

Greece Post

Posted May 06, 2010 @ 09:15 AM

Greece, N.Y. —

Before students at Craig Hill Elementary School took an asthma class, they had many fears.

"You worry about having an asthma attack," said fourth grader Brandon Schlemmer.

"If you have an asthma attack, you might die," said fourth grader Airella Irizarry.

"That people won't like me," said Shaharazzad Latimore.

But now the students feel more empowered.

"I learned more about asthma — more about triggers," Airella said. "Triggers are things that start asthma."

"I learned when to take my medicine," said fourth grader Tori Marlin.

Fourth grader Starquasia Thomas said she learned how to do belly breathing, which also helps to relieve stress.

"It helps you get your breath and relax," Starquasia said.

Students learn about their asthma through a program called Open Airways run by the American Lung Association. The program targets kids in second through sixth grades who have chronic asthma.

"Chronic is that you have it every day," Starquasia said.

The program meets six times for about 45 minutes each session.

"They're learning how to manage their asthma," said asthma educator Julia VanOrman.

VanOrman, who is also a school board member, said it's not just the students who get homework but their doctors, parents and teachers. This way, adults can learn what triggers the children's asthma.

"Not only the kids are scared, but grownups are scared too," VanOrman said. "It's knowing when we need to get help."

Students are also taught how damaging smoking cigarettes can be to one's body and health.
Students learned that cats and dogs have asthma, which they found interesting, because they can also be triggers for people too.

English Village nurse Marie Cimino said that the program has taught the children to not be afraid and to know how to take charge of their asthma.

May 4 is World Asthma Day.