Award-winning publication helps students with asthma keep active

Regular physical activity is important for health and well-being. But for the estimated one in 10 students in the United States who have asthma, their condition may be viewed as a barrier to physical activity, particularly if their asthma is not well controlled.

Thankfully, teachers, coaches, and school administrators now have an award-winning tool to guide them in supporting students who have asthma, so those students can participate fully and safely in physical activity — whether in the gym, on the playground or during a class field trip.

The tool, Asthma & Physical Activity in the School: Making a Difference, was developed by FHI 360 and the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI). The publication received a 2013 ClearMark Award from the Center for Plain Language, a Washington, DC-based nonprofit that advocates for and supports the use of plain language in government, business and academic institutions. Its annual ClearMark Awards celebrate the best in plain language among public- and private-sector print and online communications.

An update of the 1995 publication of the same name, this 32-page booklet provides school personnel with essential information in an easy-to-digest format that they can use to help students with asthma remain healthy and active. It explains technical asthma terms in simple language, calls out actions for school staff and includes helpful reproducible tools, such as asthma action plans and instructions on using asthma inhalers and other devices. The update reflects changes in asthma care guidelines, issued in 2007 by the NHLBI, and clarifies key points about asthma control.

FHI 360 staff produced the updated Asthma & Physical Activity under the NHLBI-funded National Asthma Control Initiative (NACI), an initiative of the National Asthma Education and Prevention Program, coordinated by the NHLBI. The initiative, which ended this March after 4 ½ years, engaged partners across the country in innovative strategies to overcome barriers to following recommended guidelines for asthma care and control. NACI also aimed to reduce asthma disparities in communities and populations hardest hit by this chronic condition.

There is no cure for asthma, but asthma can be controlled. When asthma is well managed and well controlled, students who have asthma should be able to participate fully in all activities, even vigorous exercise. With Asthma & Physical Activity, schools can help empower students to take control of their asthma so they can take part in all the activities school — and life — has to offer.

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