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Taz W., IL

My youngest daughter Ashanti has struggled with asthma since she was 6-years-old. When a bad case of bronchitis just wouldn’t get better, I took my daughter to see a pulmonary specialist who confirmed her bad cold was lingering, because she has asthma. Since then, monitoring Ashanti’s breathing has become a daily worry, especially when the air quality here in Chicago reaches unhealthy levels.

Now 15-years-old, Ashanti's asthma keeps her from participating in gym class with her friends. She sometimes gets winded just walking up and down the stairs. I once even received a call from her school telling me that an ambulance had to take her to the emergency room, which led to a very frightening five day hospital stay.

We have a nebulizer machine at home, which we cannot live without when ozone levels are high. Mold and dust are also among Ashanti's triggers. I can keep a clean home and help minimize Ashanti's exposure to mold. However, the elements that I cannot control like air pollution from smokestacks and tailpipes worry me most. These pollution sources have a severe impact on my daughter's health, particularly during the warm summer months, when ozone levels often spike without warning.

Regrettably, my daughter's asthma seems to have worsened as she has gotten older. As with most teens, she sometimes displays a false sense of confidence. On days when she is feeling well, Ashanti is more likely to ignore her asthma or complain about having to keep up with her nebulizer treatments.

Like all teenagers, Ashanti wants to be a normal kid with both the breath and energy to keep up with her peers. That is why I am fighting for air and support the American Lung Association's work to tackle our nation's serious air pollution problem.

People that can't understand why fighting for air is so important should walk a day in my daughter's shoes. Ashanti's quality of life depends on having healthy air.

First Published: March 12, 2012

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