Nurse Heather hopes to establish UK’s first ‘asthma-friendly town’
A nurse in England has launched a scheme that will help residents of her local town support children with asthma – and hopefully see it become the UK’s first ‘asthma-friendly’ town.
Heather Henry wants her home town of Sale, in Manchester, to be an example of how citizens can support youngsters with this debilitating condition, which affects millions of children worldwide living in urban areas, where pollution levels are high.
Asthma is most common chronic disease among children, according to the World Health Organization, affecting some 339 million people, and in the UK a child is admitted to hospital with asthma every 20 minutes. In response, Heather has set up a social enterprise ‘BreathChamps’, which involves her running a series of free one-hour online awareness sessions over the course of a year.
Highest mortality rates in Europe
She uses storytelling to raise awareness of asthma amongst both children and adults, including understanding how to recognise and respond to asthma attacks. Asthma currently affects 1 in 11 people in the UK and the UK has among the highest mortality rates of asthma symptoms in children in Europe.
“My motivation comes from my childhood when I had uncontrollable asthma – it was a very difficult time and I want to change that for other children, so they can live a full childhood, ” said Heather. Despite the advances in asthma treatments, I recognise that today’s children are still suffering, and childhood asthma is still rocketing.
“My vision is that everywhere a child with asthma goes, people know the basic things to do to keep them well.
Heather, whose project is funded by Trafford Housing Trust and Our Sale West, has already worked with children to learn how to help someone with asthma through assemblies in Sale schools and local cafes.
She is now also offering an accreditation scheme for any organisation in Sale to become ‘Child Asthma-Friendly’. Heather added: “Where better to start with this than in my hometown. Communities – individuals and organisations – can make a huge difference to the lives of young asthma sufferers in Sale and then we can move on to the next town, cities, and across the country.”
Click here for more on Heather’s BreathChamps scheme.