By Kate Carlson, Staff Writer, San Antonio Express News
Rosalinda Hernandez knows that, one day, her young son could be in a life-or-death situation because of his asthma and she wants to make sure he’s prepared.
That’s why she took him to the Asthma Boot Camp on Monday, attended by children ages 7 to 12.
“We didn’t know Armando had asthma until he had a really bad episode when he was younger,” Hernandez said. “Now that he is older, it’s easier to manage, but you can never know too much about it.”
University of Texas Health Science Center staff and students majoring in respiratory therapy dedicated a day to working one-on-one with kids diagnosed with asthma at the free daylong camp to help them understand how to manage the disease.
At the DoSeum, the campers learned when to alert an adult to seek emergency medical attention, how to measure their breathing and how to properly take asthma medication.
“A lot of kids aren’t really familiar with the signs and symptoms of asthma and how to use the medications their doctors prescribed,” said Mary Hart, director of clinical education and assistant professor for the UTHSC respiratory care program. “If we can teach them early on, hopefully they can manage and control their asthma throughout their lifetime.”
After being dropped off by their parents, the campers were taught to use a peak flow meter to measure their breathing. They were then led by volunteers in hands-on activities such as trivia games where they learned about symptoms and triggers of asthma. Then it was time for fun at the museum. As the children played, the volunteers created teaching moments to show the campers how to take a break to measure their breathing and to take asthma medication when needed.
Mirakle Garcia, 12, grinning ear to ear and wearing her camouflage Asthma Boot Camp T-shirt, explained how she has to get surgery every six months for her asthma and use a BiPAP breathing machine at night.
Mirakle said she was “really excited” to play games and learn more about her asthma at the boot camp.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 8.6 percent of children in the United States have asthma. It’s the leading cause of school absenteeism, especially if proper measures aren’t taken to manage the disease, according to the CDC.
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