NSBA and the American Association of School Administrators (AASA) have released In the Schoolyard and Beyond: Addressing Childhood Asthma in Your Community, a guide for schools, families, and community organizations to create asthma-friendly environments for children suffering from this chronic condition.
Developed under a cooperative agreement with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Division of Adolescent and School Health, the publication addresses the potentially life-threatening nature of asthma, a long-term disease that narrows the passageways to the lungs, constricting breathing.
The CDC reports that more than five million school-aged children suffer from asthma, and nearly 13 million school days are missed due to asthma. In addition, asthma accounts for about one-third of all pediatric emergency room visits and annual expenditures for health and lost productivity due to asthma are estimated at nearly $20 billion, according to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.
While no one knows what causes asthma, health experts do know that certain environmental factors like second-hand smoke, vehicle exhaust, and pollen can induce symptoms like wheezing, coughing, and tightness in the chest.
In the Schoolyard and Beyond: Addressing Childhood Asthma in Your Community recommends schools, families and communities adopt a coordinated approach to keeping asthma-afflicted youth as safe and healthy as possible. Among the steps suggested stakeholders are advised to:
- Develop an asthma action plan for the individual child that includes information like medication, specific triggers, and symptoms;
- Reduce exposure to known triggers; manage medications and educate youth on the appropriate way to use them;
- Encourage opportunities for physical activity;
- Establish and maintain good communication;
- Provide and/or take advantage of asthma education offered by local asthma coalitions.
“This brief document underscores the importance of families, schools and youth-serving organizations partnering to make sure students with asthma have consistent supports wherever they are,” said Brenda Z. Greene, NSBA’s director of School Health Programs. “If everyone plays their part, the six action steps in this document can have a powerful impact on the success of students with asthma at school and in their other activities.”
The guide is available in English and Spanish from the NSBA website.