by Mary Stauble
Earlier this summer Clean Air Carolina returned to Kannapolis to participate in this year’s Camp Open Airways. Hosted by the Jeff Gordon Children’s Center (part of Atrium Health), the camp provides fun and educational activities for kids living with asthma. A team of health professionals and volunteers helped organize and facilitate this year’s program for 40 kids, ages 7 to 13.
Camp Open Airways is a great opportunity for kids to learn about air pollution and its impacts on our health. Air pollution can severely impair children’s lung development, and poor air quality contributes to several leading causes of death, including respiratory infections, heart disease, stroke, and cancer. Just last month we had two Code Orange days in Charlotte, indicating ozone pollution levels that were unhealthy to vulnerable groups. For the nearly one-in-five North Carolina children who have been diagnosed with asthma, understanding and recognizing the warning signs and triggers can be life-saving.
This year we led a session for 26 kids with asthma. Campers learned all about air and what it’s made of, and how it can become polluted by the emissions of vehicles, industry, consumer products, construction, and lawn care activities. Kids also learned ways they can protect local air quality, including conserving energy in their homes, carpooling, and having their parents turn off their car engines when waiting to pick them up.
We had several great volunteers help us with activities and games to teach kids how to track local air quality and strategies to protect their health when air quality is poor. Campers learned about air quality flags, with volunteers holding up the flags for the kids to see. They even learned a song that can help them understand and memorize the air quality code!
Thank you to the Jeff Gordon’s Children’s Hospital for organizing this fantastic event, and helping kids learn that what we breathe matters!
To track your local air quality and protect your health, sign up for air quality forecasts.