Asthma camp trains kids to learn their triggers
By Denise M. Baran-Unland For The Herald-News June 28, 2011 4:02PM
Children ages 6-13 participate in a variety of activities at Provena Saint Joseph Medical Center’s first asthma camp on June 4, 2011. | Submitted by Provena Saint Joseph Medical Center
Updated: August 28, 2011 12:23AM
JOLIET — At day camp, 6-year-old Gabrielle Kics, of Shorewood, drew a picture of her lungs and fashioned a craft showing what happens during an asthma attack.
Newly diagnosed asthmatic Corine Hamilton, 9, of Rockdale, enthusiastically pulled one item after another from her book bag.
“She kept saying, ‘Look at this,’” said Corine’s mother, Loretta Hamilton of Rockdale. “She was really excited. She now knows what her asthma triggers are and how to keep them under control better.
These girls were just two of the 32 children ages 6 to 13 who participated in Provena Saint Joseph Medical Center’s first asthma camp on June 4. The day was so successful that asthma camp coordinator Julie Edwards hopes to budget for it next year.
“We wanted to show kids that they can play and participate in programs just like their peers,” said Edwards, the director of mission services for the Joliet hospital. “So many kids have to pull themselves out of activities because they can’t breathe. If they learn what their triggers are and avoid them as much as possible, they can live a full life.”
Edwards applied for and received a $10,000 grant from Provena Health for the camp and additional related community education programs. On camp day, the American Lung Association brought information materials and assisted with registration.
But when a group offers a camp for asthmatic children, a few more preparations are needed. So on the day before the fun began, Edwards made certain the grass was mowed at Inwood Park to minimize allergens. Registration also included a list of asthma medications each child used.
During the day’s activities, teams of eight children navigated through various zones, each of which offered fun, yet asthma-related, activities.
First, the campers engaged in physical activity that focused on measuring their peak flow and monitoring their lung capacity.
The children then learned the correct use of inhalers, peak flow meters and other asthma-related equipment.
A nutritionist even talked to them about the importance of a balanced diet, and the campers played a card game centering on allergy triggers.
“Respiratory therapist Christopher Holwey made the game,” Edwards said. “It was a deck of 52 cards and he talked about everything: dust mites, dander, mold, extremes in temperatures, cold and flu and even emotions.”
For Gabrielle, who’s had to limit activities, take many medications, and endure allergy shots during the two years since her diagnosis, the asthma camp was literally a breath of fresh air.
“She was really excited to meet other children who have asthma,” said her mother Charlotte Kics of Shorewood. “It’s scary when you have an asthma attack and can’t breathe very well. Seeing other children also manage and cope with it was very important to her.”