Andrew attends a public school in Washington, D.C. When his sixth grade class went to the nearby Smithsonian museum for a field trip, Andrew couldn't go. Andrew has asthma, a chronic inflammatory disease of the airways. Schools are legally responsible for these children when they participate in off-site, school-sponsored activities, and sometimes schools don't feel that they can take the risk of caring for a child with asthma.
On the day of the Smithsonian trip, Andrew had to stay behind with a fifth-grade class and hear the same geography lesson he'd heard the year before. And the next day, he had to listen to his friends talk about the rocket ships and dinosaurs that he had badly wanted to see for himself.
What Andrew needs is a more coordinated approach to treating his asthmaone that helps his school, doctors, and other organizations work effectively together to ensure that Andrew doesn't miss school days and doesn't miss out on opportunities like a visit to the Smithsonian.
Allies Against Asthma, a national program supported by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, is working to improve the quality of life for children with asthma. Allies Against Asthma is funding eight community-based coalitionsin places like Washington, D.C.; Milwaukee, Wisconsin; and San Juan, Puerto Ricoto develop models for managing asthma for children. The coalitions will improve the quality of health care services for children with asthma; provide better education about the disease to families and schools; and undertake efforts to change homes and other environments so as to reduce allergens and other irritants that can worsen the effects of the disease.