Staten Island Advance: Asthma contest asks parents to create safe schools

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Published: Tuesday, May 31, 2011, 6:41 AM    
By Jodi Lee Reifer Staten Island Advance

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — Breathing easy is a challenge for any parent, and the task can be even harder for parents of children with asthma.

But it doesn’t have to be.

Two asthma awareness organizations have launched a campaign aimed at improving the quality of asthma care and education in schools across America.

The initiative invites parents and guardians to apply for a $2,500 savings bond for their child and a $5,000 for their child’s school.

Ten first-place winners will score those rewards. Fifty second-place winners and those nominated schools will receive asthma nebulizer kits.

The contest comes from Everyone Breathe, a Marlborough, Mass.-based educational program created by Sunovion Pharmaceuticals Inc., and the nonprofit Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, based in Landover, Md.

To win, parents must answer multiple essay questions about their child’s experience with asthma, explaining why their son or daughter is deserving of a savings bond and propose ways to make their child’s school more asthma-friendly.

An estimated 11,400 Staten Island children suffer from asthma, while nearly 190,000 children across New York City fight the breathing condition, according to the New York office of the American Lung Association.

Contest applications will be judged by a panel that includes two-time Olympic gold medalist in tennis Mary Joe Fernandez, a spokeswoman for Everyone Breathe. Fernandez, who was the runner-up in three Grand Slam singles tournaments and won two Grand Slam women’s doubles titles, was diagnosed with asthma at 20 and has a 6-year-old son with the condition.

“I believe that it is essential for parents of children with asthma to take a proactive role in helping them lead healthy and symptom-free lives,” she said. “One way to do this is to help make their environments more asthma-friendly.”

For complete rules and to apply for the contest, visit EveryoneBreathe.com. Applications will be accepted until July 29, and winners will be announced in September.