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Driscoll Children’s Hospital hosts 18th annual Camp Easy Breathers


Summer vacation is supposed to be fun, but for many kids with asthma, that can be a real challenge.

That’s where Driscoll Children’s Hospital and the Del Mar Respiratory Care Program come in, giving kids the chance to play and learn about their condition.
This camp teaches kids ages 7-14 how to control their asthma, instead of the asthma controlling them.
Since 2002, Driscoll Children’s Hospital has sponsored the Camp Easy Breathers, which takes place at Camp Aranzazu in Rockport for a week every summer.
“We were trying to do asthma classes, but we couldn’t actually get parents; it is really hard to get somebody to come in for a asthma class, whether it be in the evening, people worked during the day so it was really difficult. So having asthma education being part of our camp, people want to come to camp, while they are here, we actually teach them about their asthma and make it where they really don’t even know they are learning ,” said Camp Director and respiratory therapist at Driscoll Children’s Hospital Shelly Bigelow.
“What this camp does, it breaks down a lot of those barriers. It also gets the kids to come out here because once they are on their medication, taking it properly, they really can do any activity any other kid can do,” said Driscoll Children’s Hospital pulmonologist Dr. Jon Roberts.
What makes this camp stand out is that it has a doctor and other medical staff on site 24/7, and it includes activities that teach campers how to keep their asthma under control.
“They make up games; they have an asthma doll where they can learn about the lungs and airways, and they watch videos to learn about how to take their medications, take them correctly. They actually take a test before the start the education, and at the end of camp, they take a post test, and most of the time they do 10-12 percent better,” said Roberts.
Besides the fact that all 43 campers are diagnosed with asthma, this camp offers them the same quality experience as any other program where they can climb rock walls and learn how to sail.
“This camp not only allows them to learn about taking their medications, but also allows them to participate in these activities and to have fun without the fear of their asthma creeping up and letting them down,” said Roberts.
“So that is the message that we want to get across to our kids; if you take care of the asthma, you can do anything you want,” said Bigelow.
The children learn about what triggers their asthma, how asthma affects their bodies, and the importance of their medications.
Asthma is a chronic lung disease that affects more than 25 million people in the United States. About seven million children suffer from the disease. This camp will not only be an opportunity for kids to learn more about asthma, but parents too.
The camp utilizes interactive teaching methods such as open dialogue, various media, activities and game-play. All will reinforce key lessons to the children such as:
  • Understanding asthma and how it affects them;
  • Recognizing and avoiding asthma attack triggers;
  • Recognizing warning signs to improve asthma management;
  • Knowing how and when to take medicine;
  • Staying healthy and staying in school

Activities at the camp will include swimming, archery, arts and crafts, outdoor games, sports and an awards show.

Asthma is a chronic disease in which the airways in the lungs become swollen, clogged and overly sensitive to changes in the environment.
During an attack, the muscles that surround the airways tighten and the inner lining of the airways swells and pushes inward.
This lung disease that affects more than 25 million people in the United States, and about seven million children suffer from the disease.
This camp will not only be an opportunity for kids to learn more about asthma, but parents too.
Asthma costs the United States more than $10 billion a year in direct and indirect medical expenses.
Timely diagnosis, appropriate treatment, partnership with a healthcare professional and reduction of exposure to environmental factors are some of the things that help children living with asthma.
Roland Rodriguez

Roland Rodriguez

Roland Rodriguez is a reporter for KRIS 6 Sunrise.
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