Living with Asthma
Children with asthma do not have to live sheltered lives. Zak plays soccer, baseball, basketball, and golf. He also roller blades, skateboards, and "pretty much loves every sport," according to his mother. In the summer he attends College for Kids at a local community college, and he sings in his school's honor choir.
Zak isn't shy about telling people he has asthma. His friends know what to do if he stops mid-play and says he needs his inhaler. They run to his backpack, bring him his inhaler, then hold up one finger at a time after Zak takes a puff. When they get to ten, Zak releases his breath and begins to relax, taking in more and more air until he's back to normal.
Not all asthmatic children can endure outdoor sports because exercise and allergies may trigger an attack, even if they are on a daily double dose of controller medication. The Consortium of Children's Asthma Camps hosts summer camps to allow high-risk children a chance to enjoy a camp in a safe environment. Specialists on staff assist with medications and emergencies. For information on how to apply for a Children's Asthma Camp near you, visit www.asthmacamps.org.
Dr. Neaville advises parents to let children be themselves, and that's exactly what the Kendricks have done. Zak has learned to deal with his asthma as a part of everyday life. "At first I worried he wouldn't be able to do all the things boys do," Debi says. "But he's accomplished everything he's attempted pretty well, I think. Of course, I wish he didn't have asthma. It would make all our lives much easier. But the older he gets, I see him handle it more himself, and with confidence."
Through education and treatment, asthmatic children—just like Zak—are living, breathing examples of courage and confidence.
For More Information
Kids can learn about asthma by visiting www.asthma.org.uk/kidszone. Travel inside the body to find out how asthma looks beneath the skin. Play educational games like "Surfin' the Airways," "Trigger Snappy," and "Mucus Mansion." Check your MDI technique with animated instructions. Posting questions on the message board can be fun, too!