The Asthma-Friendly Schools Initiative is a comprehensive approach to asthma management in schools. Using the tested tools and resources, schools and communities are better able to create sustainable asthma management plans within their existing school structures. The goal of the initiative is to keep children with asthma healthy, in school and ready to learn.
The Story Behind the Asthma-Friendly Schools Initiative
The Asthma-Friendly Schools Initiative was created through a cooperative agreement with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Division of Adolescent and School Health. The effort began with a December 2001 conference that pooled the experience and insight of a range of professionals with expertise in asthma, health education and promotion, community organization, school health, environmental health and program management.
This group of experts recommended a comprehensive set of strategies for creating an asthma-friendly school. They also encouraged the American Lung Association to develop a resource that focused on the role that communities could play in helping their schools with planning and implementation. Out of this conference came the Asthma-Friendly Schools Toolkit and the Asthma Incidence Reporter (AIR) database. Extensive pilot testing and revision over a two-year period led to the final products, which have been available to schools and communities via our website since 2007.
How the Asthma-Friendly Schools Initiative Works
The Asthma-Friendly Schools Initiative Toolkit is a planning tool based on real-life activities that have been used in schools throughout the U.S. to create comprehensive asthma management systems. The Toolkit is based on the premise that a successful Asthma-Friendly Schools Initiative must be grounded in a structured planning process that includes coalition building, community-wide input, action planning and ongoing support. The process and details in the Toolkit provide in-depth planning and activities that are complementary to the CDC's Strategies for Addressing Asthma within a Coordinated School Health Program.
Each community, coalition, organization and school is different and will need to create a custom long-term planning process based on their particular needs. The Toolkit allows and encourages groups to design a plan that is specific to their community needs and resources.