Written by Carissa Hoium & Sarah Kroening

Asthma and outdoor air quality have major impacts on children’s health and educational achievement. Children’s Health Alliance of Wisconsin’s (the Alliance) environmental health initiative is dedicated to creating healthy environments where Wisconsin kids live, learn and play. Milwaukee’s asthma rate is one-and-a-half times the statewide rate. Asthma related health concerns impact children’s school attendance and create financial burdens on families.

The Alliance is implementing a program that hopes to start addressing those concerns and is excited to announce the launch of a new program, Love My Air Wisconsin (LMA WI)! This program is made possible by an EPA grant awarded to the Alliance, providing $500,000 in funding from 2023-26 to develop an outdoor air quality monitoring network. LMA WI is partnering with Milwaukee Public Schools and aims to not only improve outdoor air quality monitoring, but to also enhance air pollution awareness among school staff, children, families and community members across the city of Milwaukee.

Love My Air Wisconsin aims to equip families in Milwaukee

LMA WI will install an outdoor air sensor at each participating school. The program will provide toolkits, lessons, and resources to help school staff, children, families and communities gain access to near-real time outdoor air quality data, allowing them to take immediate action when outdoor air quality is poor!

Five schools were selected to participate in LMA WI’s first year cohort, including: Allen-Field School, Browning School, Hopkins Lloyd School, Lincoln Avenue School, and Westside Academy.  Each year, an additional five schools will be selected to participate.

Spearheading this work is the Alliance’s Program Manager, Sarah Kroening. Kroening joined the Alliance this past spring to manage the Love My Air program, and has been busy meeting with schools, partner organizations, and attending school Open Houses to discuss the program. She shared, “The overall feeling is excitement and relief. Many parents expressed feeling concerned about their children and asthma related health needs, specifically mentioning issues they experienced this summer during the wildfire events. It is apparent school staff and families want to keep children safe when it comes to outdoor air quality. Upon learning of the program, they are feeling hopeful that Love My Air tools and resources will help them do this.”

Love My Air Wisconsin growth and development

LMA WI has established partnerships with local, state and national organizations, and has an advisory committee that meets regularly. The program aims to mindfully develop activities and resources to allow individual schools and community organizations to engage with air quality monitoring in ways that align with their children’s needs. Additionally, the Alliance is hopeful that LMA WI proves to be impactful and will expand across the state after the 3-year grant. In the meantime, LMA WI is finding ways to provide support to schools that are not part of the initial 3-year cohort. Kroening shares, “We realize outdoor air quality and children’s health is a priority for families across our state, so we are doing our best to support other districts as we build the program.”

To learn more about Love My Air, or to request updates, please click here to visit the Alliance’s website.