The Importance of Outreach

As a Health Educator serving at Respiratory Health Association, my position is unique because I get to learn about the different schools and communities I travel to in Chicago while providing asthma management education programs to school staff, parents, and students. Each asthma management program is tailored to the specific audience, but is ultimately focused on providing more in depth information about asthma such as trigger avoidance (triggers are irritants and allergens that are present in the environment and can potentially cause an asthma flare up), how to properly use a metered dose inhaler with a spacer and how to respond during an asthma episode.

Depending on the audience, I may only be presenting for one hour or providing information to students during a three- day time period. As my time is limited  for health education,  I must maximize my service. As an example, during a parent and caregiver asthma management presentation, I often learn that some individuals have a personal connection to asthma while others may not be as aware about the disease. Regardless of familiarity, parents and caregivers in the audience are engaged about the content by asking questions, providing suggestions to one another about how to reduce asthma triggers in the home, and taking notes on the presentation. By the end of the presentation some parents may approach me with questions about asthma or describe their own experiences with the disease.

At the end of the presentation, I also pass out Asthma Action Plans and the Parent Request for Self Administration of Medication Form. Both of these documents are important for students with asthma to have on file at school. Sometimes parents share that they were unaware of the documents  or will share with someone they know who has a child with asthma. Although time to provide asthma health education is limited, with these presentations  I am helping create spaces within schools to connect with parents and share the information on asthma with the greater community because it is a collaborative effort.

This blog was written by 2018-19 member Gabriela Munoz.

Gabriela serves as a Health Educator at Respiratory Health Association.