In this monthís newsletter, we bring you information about two memorial runs which took place last month, some information about pollen season, and our ongoing advocacy activities. We want to give you a BIG reminder though Ė your asthma doesnít stop in the summer. We hope you feel great with summer energy, vacations, and outdoor activities. With some luck, you wonít be affected by smoggy skies or seasonal allergies. If you tend to feel great in the summer, itís because your medication is WORKING! Itís important to keep taking your daily controller medication year-round if it has been prescribed for you.
1. Memorial Events keep Memories Alive
Hundreds of lives are touched every time we lose a friend to asthma. This tragic event happens all too often – approximately 250 times every year in Canada. Leah was one of those young women who passed away in March of 1999, though her friends and family make sure that she has never been forgotten. This year, her friend Bryan organized a 5km walk and fun-run in Mississauga in her memory.
On a sunny May afternoon, over 30 runners and walkers helped raise over $1600 to donate to the Asthma Society in memory of Leah. Friends and family ranging from 2 to 62 years of age came out to enjoy the day, get active, and share their memories.
“Events like this are an important celebration of Leah’s life”, said Bryan. “It is fantastic to have everyone out to see each other, keeping the memory of Leah alive and reminding people how precious life is and how good it feels to donate to a great cause.”
Bryan has helped organize 11 memorial fundraising events over the past 12 years, including casino nights, martini parties, and dance parties. Through the efforts of Bryan and Leah’s friends, over $10,000 has been donated to the Asthma Society over this time.
We would like to offer our sincere thanks to Bryan for his organization efforts time and time again. The funds he and Leah’s friends have raised over the years have helped thousands of Canadians take control of their asthma through education, research and information. Our mission at the Asthma Society is to help every child and adult in Canada live an active and symptom free life. Events such as the one he helps put on are wonderful opportunities to celebrate memories, and help the Asthma Society reach more and more Canadians with asthma each year.
This month, we also celebrated Seja’s Run, in conjunction with Toronto French School’s Community Day. Hundreds of runners took part in a 2.5km or 5km run, bike or stroll to raise money for the Asthma Society. Named after Seja von Wersebe, a classmate who died of asthma complications in 1991, this event has raised more than $75,000 since the inaugural event in 1996. This year’s total comes in at near $3,500! Thank you very much to everyone who participated!
If you have your own fundraising ideas or would like assistance with any fundraising efforts, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by phone at 1-866-787-4050.
2. Seasonal Pollens Shifting from Trees to Grass
Now that June here, many of your thoughts may be turning to summer vacation and spending time outdoors. But depending on where you live across the country, you may be hitting the prime time for pollen allergies. If you are allergic to tree pollens, you can take comfort that peak season will be ending shortly, but now grass pollens begin to emerge as well.
Over 80% of people with asthma also suffer from related respiratory allergies, and 75% of people with asthma suffer from seasonal allergies. Your allergies may make your asthma symptoms stronger, and uncontrolled asthma could cause you to experience symptoms for a longer period as well.
To reduce your exposure to seasonal pollens, here are some tips you can use:
With proper control, the summer months are when many people with asthma tend to start feeling fine and stop taking their daily medication. Remember that you are feeling fine because your medication is working! Poor adherence to medication over the summer is one of the leading reasons why we see a spike in asthma hospitalizations for children every year in September. Do not stop taking your controller medications without speaking to your doctor or medical professional!
- Shower or bathe before bedtime to wash pollen and other allergens off your skin and hair
- Keep windows and doors closed to limit the amount of pollen in your home
- Stay indoors when pollen counts are high
- Avoid drying your clothes outdoors where pollen may stick to them
3. Whatís the Issue: Medications at School
This coming fall, there will be at least 5 provincial elections across the country. Whether you’ve got an election coming locally or not, we’re happy to start this new recurring section of the newsletter to help educate you about some of the topics that the National Asthma Patient Alliance is working on.
Our first topic: medications at school. This was a priority issue for you in our recent NAPA member survey: 96.9% of NAPA members believe that it is “very important” or “important” that children have immediate access to their medications while at school. Additionally, 95% of you thought that when a child is deemed capable, school policies should allow them to carry the medication with them at all times.
Why is this important?
Policies tend to vary greatly province-by-province, school-board-by-school-board, and even school by school. There are some school boards across Canada that have no medication policies at all! Some school boards require that all medication be locked up in the central office – sometimes 3 or 4 minutes away from the classroom of your child!
And then, what happens when your child is outdoors at recess and needs their rescue medication? Are the school doors locked? What about during after school sports, can your child’s backpack be near the field, or must it be locked in a locker room somewhere? On field trips, does the school make sure that the medication travels with your child?
Right now, only British Columbia, New Brunswick, and Yukon have provincial/territorial mandates which allow parents to tell the school where their child’s emergency asthma medication will be. In consultation with your doctor, a parent can determine when the child is capable of carrying the medication themselves, and making sure that it is always nearby when needed.
For consistency and the health of our children, we continue to push the other provinces and school boards to develop clear, concise laws or policies which allow capable children to keep their medication with them at all times during school activities. You can help – near the end of the summer, watch your inbox for information on how you can contact your politicians and have them address this important issue.
4. Economics of Asthma Symposium coming to Toronto
Mark your calendars for July 9th in Toronto, for the 1st International Symposium on the Economics of Asthma and Asthma Care. This one-day event will explore existing economic research on asthma and plan future research opportunities by examining the broad range of economic implications and impacts of asthma in Canada and the rest of the world.
The symposium will include a keynote presentation, sessions and interactive roundtable discussions. This event is designed to address specific questions culminating in the establishing of a future-oriented research agenda.
The July 9th Symposium is also one of the pre-conference activities for the International Health Economics Association 8th World Congress on Health Economics, running from July 10th to 13th. The Asthma Society of Canada is a proud supporter of the Symposium, presented by AllerGen NCE and iHEA.
For more information about the Symposium agenda, or to register for the Symposium and/or World Congress, please visit http://www.allergen-nce.ca.
5. Thank You for Your Help with our AQHI Report
The Asthma Society of Canada has completed a report for Environment Canada outlining your opinions and preferences to learn about the Air Quality Health Index.
The AQHI is a guide and forecast which you can use to plan your daily activities based on the amount of air pollution in your area. Using colour-coded numbers from 1 to 10+ and the related health messages, you can modify your outdoor activity schedule if necessary when poor air quality is currently in, or forecast for, you area.
152 of you completed various surveys or feedback sessions. 87.5% of you believe that air pollution affect you and your well-being personally. However only 45.5% of you currently pay attention to air pollution levels in your area. When asked about the AQHI, 93.1% of you found this tool to be easy to understand and use, and that you wished that your local readings were communicated to users through multiple channels (such as the Internet, local media, and applications like the Asthma Society’s Desktop Widget).
Our overall recommendations take your feedback into consideration. We suggest a number of things, for example that there be a better focus on helping people identify their personal AQHI number at which they start experiencing difficulties. We also suggest providing optional updates in formats you request, like alerts you can receive when the readings or forecasts are high.
Thank you very much to everyone who participated in this valuable project. We hope you continue to use the index on a regular basis to plan your activities, especially as we inch closer to a forecasted for a long, hot summer in many parts of the country.
For a new, FREE application to get the AQHI on your iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad, you can visit itunes.apple.com/us/app/aqhi/id426506056?mt=8. To find AQHI information in Chinese, please click here, and please contact us at email@example.com if you would like a full copy of this report.
6. Residential Indoor Air Quality Courses Available
The goal of Healthy Indoors Partnership (HIP) is to address the critical issues of indoor air quality and to make a difference with in the health and environment, by working with those responsible for building, maintenance, renovations and management of property. HIP certified courses are developed, designed and presented specifically to meet the needs of Canadian Indoor Air Quality professionals.
If you are a property manager, contractor, or even a do-it-yourself renovator within your home or office, we encourage you to check out the resources provided at www.hip-iaq.com.
Upcoming one-day introductory courses are available in the following topics:
If you are interested in participating, please find more information and registration details at www.hip-iaq.com/Education/HIPEducationSeries.aspx.
- Residential Indoor Air Quality, June 15th
- Mould, June 16th
- Condominium Indoor Air Quality, June 17th
7. Stories you may have missed this month on the NAPA Blog
Available at http://napa-blog.blogspot.com, here are some of the interesting stories you may have missed in the last month:
Air Canada denies seat to man with peanut allergy
New treatment available for severe, persistent asthma
Who knows best: doctor, or patient?
Cleaning up after a flood
Sunnier cities may have less asthma