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County youths go on asthma safari

About 325 youngsters, kindergarten through second grade, participated in the Asthma Safari at the Family Life Center in Troy on Friday.

The numbers were both good and not so good.

“We should be concerned that the number of children with asthma is that high,” said Christi Hill, registered nurse with Steps to a Healthier Alabama. “We have more children diagnosed with asthma in Pike County than in any other county in our area. But, it’s good that we have a program like Asthma Safari to help these children learn about asthma and ways that they can control it.”

For seven years, the Steps and Healthy Schools, Healthy Kids programs have taken the lead in the Asthma Safari program. This year, Troy University under the direction of Dr. Gayle Bush, has taken the lead in the program to give it sustainability.

Bush said Troy University gladly accepts the lead in a program that is so beneficial to so many young people and their parents.

“The children are learning to manage their asthma and will hopefully share what they have learned with their parents,” Bush said.

Some of the children have only recently been diagnosed and are just coming to an understanding of asthma and how they can better manage it by knowing the triggers and their limitations.

Asthma attacks can be triggered by many things from dust to cold air,” said Debbie Loyd, registered nurse and Asthma Safari volunteer. “There are indoor triggers and outdoor triggers and children with asthma need to be able to recognize the things that trigger their asthma.”

Other than learning to identify asthma triggers and knowing ways to better manage their condition, children with asthma find comfort in knowing that they are not by themselves.

“It helps them tremendously to know that there are others with the same condition,” Hill said. “And, it’s also encouraging for them to realize that there are those who understand their condition and stand ready to help them in the event of an attack.”

The Troy Rotary Club has come on board as a supporter of the Asthma Safari. The club presented a $500 check to Bush to defray the costs of the educational materials for the Safari and also provided lunch for the volunteers.