IAQ1101:        Asthma: Takes Our Children's Breath Away

Speaker:           Monica Queeley

Email:               monica_queeley@doh.state.fl.us

 

The Duval County Health Department has developed an engaging methodology and curriculum to increase awareness of asthma triggers commonly found in the home. This unique program is structured to provide entertaining interaction among children as they are educated in ways to identify and eliminate asthma triggers. Parents and childcare workers also receive this training thus enabling them to reinforce the lessons learned. In this session, you will be presented with anecdotes, and will leave this session with details of design, implementation, methodology, challenges, and solutions.

 

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Although asthma can be mitigated, most families with asthmatic children are unaware of asthma triggers that could be present in their homes. Traditional considerations of asthma triggers indict air and environmental pollution as the root of exacerbation.  However, the home environment often triggers many asthma attacks and incidents. There are quality of life advantages to starting education about asthma during childhood. Hence, the Duval County Health Department (DCHD) implemented an EPA funded grant project titled "The Asthma-Smart School Program".  The project focuses on developing asthma awareness among pre-school aged children, their parents and daycare providers.

Asthma awareness training for preschool children emphasizes their understanding of asthma as well as identifying and avoiding asthma triggers. During the class, children are trained to identify asthma triggers by age appropriate techniques such as interactive activities and games.  Since little related educational materials for young children existed, the DCHD developed instructive tools for the children's training classes. This included an interactive poster and a coloring book both showing asthma triggers that are commonly found at home. These teaching aids are being considered for national adaptation and distribution by the EPA.

Asthma awareness among parents was addressed through a series of "Parents nights" that were held at the daycare centers. This program served to heighten parents' knowledge and understanding of asthma and related issues.  The asthma training for daycare providers was provided using a "Train the Trainer" approach. This program enhanced the childcare staff's awareness of asthma symptoms and triggers thus enabling them to teach the children.

Several indicators unanimously attest to the project's success.  For example, over 80% of 401 educated preschool children were able to identify at least 3 new asthma triggers after completion of the class. Forty-two childcare providers attended asthma awareness classes and 69 families of identified asthmatic children received follow-up education and services. Furthermore, Duval County Health Department staff personally observed that the children were enthusiastic, eager to learn and fully engaged during our training classes. Additional details of the project including methodology, challenges, solutions and anecdotes will be provided at the NEHA conference.