About OAS

The American Lung Association's Open Airways For Schools is a school-based curriculum that educates and empowers children through a fun and interactive approach to asthma self-management.  It teaches children with asthma ages 8-11 how to detect the warning signs of asthma, avoid their triggers and make decisions about their health.  Children who complete the Open Airways for Schools program should be able to:

  • Take steps to prevent asthma symptoms
  • Recognize the symptoms of asthma when they first occur, and carry out appropriate management steps.
  • Discuss and solve problems related to asthma with parents, medical professionals, teachers, and friends
  • Feel more confident about taking care of their asthma on a daily basis

The Story Behind Open Airways for Schools

Open Airways For Schools was developed over a decade ago by researchers at Columbia University, in collaboration with the American Lung Association. The decision was made to design the program for delivery in schools because that is the surest way to reach all children, regardless of their family situation or access to health care.  The initial study was conducted with a diverse group of 239 children from 12 elementary schools in parts of New York City where the rates of severe asthma were unusually high.  Children who completed the program took more steps to manage their asthma, improved their school performance, and had fewer and less severe asthma episodes.  Parents of children participating in Open Airways For Schools reported taking more steps to help manage their children's asthma.  And the school environment became more supportive: children without asthma were more willing to help children with asthma, and children with asthma were able to give support to one another.

How the Program Works

The Open Airways For Schools curriculum consists of six 40-minute group lessons for children with asthma held during the school day.  The curriculum incorporates an interactive teaching approach – using group discussion, stories, games and role play – to promote students' active involvement in the learning process. Topics covered include basic information about asthma, recognizing and managing asthma symptoms, using medication, avoiding asthma triggers, getting enough exercise, and doing well at school.

Open Airways For Schools classes are led by trained instructors, who might be the school nurse or other school personnel, parents, community volunteers, or anyone with an asthma background that has an interest in working with children.

The OAS classroom kits contain easy-to-use teaching materials including a detailed curriculum guide, posters and activity handouts. Each lesson also includes materials for the children to take home and share with their parents. All curriculum materials are available in English and Spanish.

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