Create a Healthier Learning Environment with an Asthma Management Program

by Lani Wheeler

Are you interested in helping your community improve the academic performance of students?  Whether you’re involved in a parent-teacher’s organization, school sports, or you just want to be a positive influence on the schools in your community, you’ll want to take a look at your school-based asthma management program.  Working with schools in your community to integrate asthma management programs can help improve academic performance and can even lead to increases in school funding.

Without a strong school-based asthma management program, students with asthma can miss significantly more school and perform worse than students without asthma.  This can also impact the community, as parents miss work to stay home with their children. But, when students’ asthma is under good control, they can attend school and perform equally well.  Along with that, better attendance rates increase school funding for most school districts.

EPA has several resources to assist schools in their efforts to create healthier school environments and improve the lives of students and staff with asthma.  In particular, check out EPA’s Managing Asthma in the School Environment publication to learn helpful tips for putting a school-based asthma management program in place.

You can help.  These programs are guided by school health councils or wellness teams and reflect a partnership between school staff, student, parents, and asthma care clinicians. They are usually part of a school’s larger plan to assist students with any type of chronic condition, but take extra steps such as encouraging all students with asthma to have an Asthma Action Plan on file with the school.  Asthma prevention activities and education for staff, students and families are important components, too.

Reach out to the schools in your community to see if their school-based asthma management programs are providing the best support available to students with asthma. More information on managing asthma at school is available at: http://www.epa.gov/iaq/schools/managingasthma.html

About the Author: Dr. Lani Wheeler, MD, FAAP, FASHA is a public health pediatrician and consultant in environmental health. She recently co-chaired the NHLBI National Asthma Education and Prevention Program’s (NAEPP) School Education Subcommittee where she represented the American School Health Association (ASHA).