Making Schools Safe for Children with Asthma

World Asthma Day - May 7, 2013

TORONTO, May 7, 2013 /CNW/ - In Ontario, more than 1.8 million people - including one in five children under the age of 15 years - now live with asthma, a chronic, inflammatory lung disease.

On World Asthma Day 2013, the Ontario Lung Association and Ophea are collaborating to ensure that all schools have access to the resources and support they need to make our schools safe for children with asthma.

As part of their joint school-based programming, the Ontario Lung Association and Ophea have developed a new guide - 7 Simple Steps to Make Schools Asthma-Friendly - to help principals and teachers recognize and respond to the needs of children with asthma.

The sudden and tragic death of 12-year-old Ryan Gibbons after he suffered an asthma attack at school last year is a stark reminder that a flare-up can happen at any time and in fact, can be fatal.

"I hope that we can learn from what happened to my son," said Ryan's mother Sandra Gibbons. "We can start by making sure that we do everything possible to create a safe environment for children with asthma."

Based on research completed by Public Health Schools Asthma Program experts affiliated with select Public Health Units, 7 Simple Steps to Make Schools Asthma-Friendly recommends that all schools establish a process to identify students with asthma and to ensure that they have easy access to their prescribed reliever inhaler. Staff should also know how to recognize and manage worsening symptoms and asthma attacks.

"Today, asthma is so common it is quite possible to forget that it is a serious illness that claims the lives of many Ontarians every year," said George Habib, president and CEO of the Ontario Lung Association. "Through our partnership with Ophea, schools can access materials and support to help them develop and implement policies to make school a place where children with asthma can breathe freely and safely."

Said Ophea executive director and CEO Chris Markham: "Because children with asthma need support not only at home, but also at school or any other place they happen to be, asthma management is a responsibility shared among parents, children, schools and their communities.

"We encourage schools and daycares to review their policies based on the new guide and other youth asthma management resources available from Ophea and The Lung Association."

About the Ontario Lung Association
The Lung Association is a registered charity that provides information, education and funding for research to improve lung health. The organization focuses on the prevention and control of asthma, chronic lung disease, tobacco control as well as healthy air and the effects of pollution on lung health. For information on lung health, call 1‐888‐344‐LUNG (5864), which is staffed by certified respiratory educators, or visit www.on.lung.ca. You can also follow us on Twitter @OntarioLung and Facebook.

About Ophea
Ophea is a not-for-profit organization that works in partnership with school boards, public health, government, non-government organizations and private sector organization to develop groundbreaking programs and services that support healthy active schools and communities. To learn more about Ophea, visit www.ophea.net

Video with caption: "Remembering Ryan.". Video available at: http://youtu.be/yBWPznZqDr0

SOURCE: Ontario Lung Association

For further information:

John Chenery
Ontario Lung Association
416-864-9911 ext. 292 | Cell: 647-293-9911
jchenery@on.lung.ca


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