By Libby Halma, Wisconsin HealthCorps member
As the 2018-2019 school year wraps up, I wanted to take a moment to reflect on the Wisconsin Asthma Coalition School Walkthrough Program’s accomplishments.
Between December 2018 and May 2019, Brittany Farrell, asthma project manager at the Alliance, and I conducted walkthroughs at more than 50 schools in Milwaukee, Kenosha and Rock counties. We visited elementary, middle and high schools to identify common classroom asthma triggers and share simple reduction strategies. The most commonly identified triggers were dust and dust mites and strong odors (essential oil diffusers, air fresheners and cleaning agents).
After reviewing school-specific data, I estimate the walkthroughs potentially impacted more than 5,000 children and adolescents with asthma. Depending on the action taken by participating schools to reduce asthma triggers, it is possible these students will experience fewer asthma symptoms while at school.
My favorite part of the walkthroughs was educating school staff about asthma pathophysiology and triggers. It was exciting when participants indicated they learned something new about asthma and wanted to know how they could make their school more asthma-friendly. The enthusiasm shown by custodians, school nurses and principals made the walkthroughs one of my most positive HealthCorps experiences so far.