Asthma camp helps young patients enjoy summer, stay healthy

By: Trishna Begam Email
By: Trishna Begam Email

News 12 This Morning / Tuesday, July 24, 2012

AUGUSTA, Ga. -- It doesn't take much to entertain 13-year-old Artell Swindell.

Give him a ball, and he's ready to play, but sometimes that can take a toll on his health.

"I was outside playing football one day, and I just started coughing and then my chest started hurting," Swindell said.

Swindell was having an asthma attack.

"I was scared," he said.

Kitty Herlen, the camp director, said, "A lot of children with asthma think they can't do normal activities, and they can. Asthma can't be cured, but it can be managed."

At GHSU's EZ Breathy Island summer camp, camp counselors are also trained medical professionals. They work with campers to learn about monitoring symptoms and the medications they need.

"Children start their day with peak flow monitoring and then they go into an hour of asthma education, covering triggers and asthma medication," Herlen said.

"We've been learning about asthma stuff, having a good time," Swindell said.

After that, they're ready for outdoor camp activities, sports, hiking and some fun under a parachute.

"It's a big deal for them," Herlen said. "The opportunity to go out and have fun in a safe environment."

The camp director says it's an educational experience she doesn't want these campers to forget.

"There have been some asthma deaths in recent years in Augusta, Richmond County area," she said. "There were four cases within a two month period and it brought the CDC to Augusta."

She says no child should die of asthma.

"It's good stuff to learn, so you can know about yourself," Swindell said.

The more he knows, the more fun he can have outside in the sun.

The camp was funded this summer through a $27,000 grant. In past years, similar camps like this were discontinued due to lack of funds.


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