Rochester Asthma Team: Rush Henrietta

November 02, 2009

Rochester Asthma Team: Rush Henrietta

Many children diagnosed with asthma may believe or may have been told that living a fully active life is not possible and that there are limitations in what they are able to do.  However, in New York State, the Regional Community Asthma Network or RCAN works to dissolve that myth by providing the estimated 370,000 children that are affected by the disease there, the knowledge and education needed to live actively and healthy with asthma.  RCAN, which is one of the 11 Regional Coalitions of the New York State Department of Health has a mission to improve the quality of life of those affected by asthma in the Finger Lakes Area.   Julia VanOrman, RCAN'a Regional Coalition Coordinator said, "It is our vision to reduce the burden of asthma and improve the quality of life through supporting children affected by asthma to achieve optimal asthma management and control." 

To provide the needed education to children with asthma, RCAN, in 2006 created a partnership with the Rush Henrietta School District in Henrietta, New York.  Together they were one of ten sites in the US that was awarded the Asthma Friendly School Initiative Grant from the Centers for Disease Control and the National American Lung Association. VanOrman continued, "Our overall goal is to create an Asthma Friendly School District and the Asthma Friendly School Initiative will support a school’s goal of educating children by keeping them healthy, in school and ready to learn.

Under the grant, the Rush Henrietta School District has done many wonderful things in the New York area so far, with one of them being, creating a Parent Asthma Advisory Committee.  Just recently, on November 3, 2009, the committee had an Asthma/Allergy Fair where families could spend time talking to school nurses and representatives from community organizations to learn more about asthma and allergies.  During the event at Vollmer Learning Center children enjoyed games, face painting, educational tables and displays, and a poster contest where students from all grade levels could create a poster regarding asthma, allergies, or smoking.  Four grand prize winners of the contest recieved a gift card from target.  Also, were demonstrations showing correct peakflow and spacer technique.

Although the weather may not have been quite agreeable that evening, the event was still a wonderful and huge success for the several hundred people that attended.  One guest in particular that was sure to come out was Chris Draft, Buffalo Bills' linebacker and founder of The Chris Draft Family Foundation. Being someone that has battled with asthma throughout his NFL career, Chris felt it was important to create the Asthma Team through the Draft Family Foundation which partners with individuals, families, and agencies who power the Tackling Asthma movement of inspiration and education.  Declining the stage set up with a table and microphone, Chris got right down and out in the middle of everyone at the event, and talked with the children and families about having asthma and what that is like for him.  Julia VanOrman stated, "The children/teenagers were really able to connect with him; they were saying things like he really has asthma......he knows how I feel......he plays in the NFL, even with asthma......maybe I can too!"  Some children were even over heard saying that maybe they should start taking their medication like Chris.  But Chris' goal is to never make it all about him, but instead to encourage the children that they too can live a healthy and active life with asthma.  He stayed and signed every poster, football, and shirt; he also took pictures with every single child and parent that attended.  VanOrman continued, "I think some of the fathers were equally excited as the kids to meet him; he was funny, positive, motivating, and very gracious and we really appreciated him coming out."

To find out how to live actively with asthma or become more educated on it, contact the American Lung Association in your area. Find your local ALA on their website,