Angela, a fourth grade student, missed school three times this month. Her mother left work to take her to the doctor to treat her asthma, an illness that she has had for a long time. Angela is an energetic girl and says her favorite part of school is recess. Angela’s mother, however, says that her daughter’s illness is hard because she has to stop work for it.
Angela is not the only kid with asthma; she and 6.3 million of children suffer from asthma in the United States, according to the American Lung Association. As a result, the chronic lung disease causes of 14 million missed school days each year.
Asthma is a sickness that never goes away and makes it hard to breathe. Asthma attacks start by “triggers” in the environment, indoor and outdoor. Triggers are pollutants found in the air quality. Triggers can be cigarette smoke, dust, gases and molds. These can be found in building materials, school buses, paint, trash and animals as explained by the American Lung Association.
Community Action to Fight Asthma (CAFA), which began in August 2002, is a project from the Mid-City Community Advocacy Network. (CAN). Funded by the California Endowment, CAFA works with the American Lung Association to decrease the triggers to asthma for people who live in Mid-City San Diego, especially children. CAFA is working to help kids like Angela, who live in Mid-City San Diego, to enjoy their childhood asthma free.
As apart of the project, CAFA asked Mid-City residents what triggers did they see as most important to getting rid of. A total of 412 Mid-City residents were interviewed and found that trash was the number one concern.
“This was not a surprise since trash is already a known problem in Mid-City” says Kevin O’Neil from Mid-City CAN “but since trash is a trigger to asthma it affects the health of children”.
A majority of people interviewed said that they could make a difference in their community and help to improve the environment. Plus, 30 percent of community residents sur-veyed said they were interested in joining CAFA to help work on a solution.
CAFA is actively recruiting community residents from local schools, businesses and other community organizations. In addition, CAFA has held several local community neighborhood clean-ups with the support of the American Lung Association and Blue Cross.
This is an important issue in Mid-City and in order to protect families and their children, active participation is essential to fight against environmental triggers of asthma. Overall, the goal of cleaning up trash will help reduce asthma in Mid-City San Diego.
For more information, please contact Kirk Arthur at 619.283.9624.
Patricia Hodge is an intern with the Mid-City Community Advocacy Network’s Partnership for the Public’s Health (PPH) Initiative. She recently completed her Masters in Public Health at San Diego State University. The PPH Initiative is working with residents to address policies related to public health issues in the Mid-City community of San Diego.