Asthma Identified as a Leading Cause of School Absences

United Way Launches Pioneering Program in Most-Affected Neighborhoods

With Support From NYC Dept. of Health and Board of Education

Feb 19, 2002, 00:00 ET from United Way of New York City

    NEW YORK, Feb. 19 /PRNewswire/ -- United Way of New York City (UWNYC)
 announced today a pioneering program that teaches parents and children how to
 better treat and manage asthma, one of the leading causes of student
 absenteeism in city schools. The Asthma Education Initiative, aimed at
 increasing parent and child awareness, knowledge and control of childhood
 asthma, will begin with a pilot program within three schools that experience
 high incidences of asthma; PS 153 in Washington Heights, PS 65 in the South
 Bronx and PS 309 in Bedford Stuyvesant, Brooklyn.
     "With New York City having such a high rate of hospitalization for
 children with asthma and with the resulting absentee rate, the Asthma
 Education Initiative is a critical step in addressing both the health and
 educational needs of our children's future," said Digna Sanchez, vice
 president for educational services at United Way of New York City.
     The program is funded by The Starr Foundation, one of the largest private
 foundations in the United States, and is supported by both the New York City
 Department of Health and the Board of Education. Three community-based
 organizations have been selected to work with the schools and families to
 facilitate the program: Urban Health Plan, Caribbean Women's Health
 Association and Community Healthcare Network.
     How The Asthma Education Initiative Works
     A Resource Referral Specialist will be assigned to work directly with the
 schools to facilitate the scheduling of workshops and project activities. Each
 school will also receive the services of a Community Health Educator, trained
 by the NYC Department of Health, who will conduct the workshops, train the
 school staff and work closely with families to ensure that they understand and
 take preventative measures.
     Each of the pilot schools involved is a member of United Way's Community
 Achievement Project in the Schools (CAPS), which combines the efforts of
 schools and community-based organizations (CBOs) to develop services to
 motivate students to stay in school. Over the past 11 years CAPS has developed
 a broad network of programs in 167 New York City public schools, providing the
 Asthma Education Initiative with a springboard for its launch.
     The Asthma Education Initiative Advisory Committee is comprised of: Dr.
 Patricia Hazelwood, Chairperson of Community Health Education at Kingsborough
 College; Dr. Rosa M. Gil, University Dean for Health Sciences at the City
 University of New York; Louise Cohen, MPH, Director of Community Programs of
 NYC Childhood Asthma Initiative; Florence A. Davis, President of the Staff
 Foundation; Jill E. Schmier, Director of School Health of the American Cancer
 Society; and Rami Bachiman, Director of Programs for the American Lung
     About United Way
     UWNYC is a volunteer-directed organization committed to helping New York's
 most vulnerable citizens become and remain self-sufficient. UWNYC funds a
 network of the most effective human service nonprofits in the five boroughs,
 and mounts collaborative initiatives, like CAPS, to address the community's
 most pressing human care needs. United Way of New York City's work is made
 possible by the 2,000 companies and 300,000 individuals who contribute to its
 annual campaign.
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SOURCE United Way of New York City