Lung Association and Pediatric Asthma Coalition of the Capital Region Host Open Airways For Schools® Training

Facilitator and Trainer Certification Program to be Held at HVCC Saturday, March 12

ALBANY, NY (03/02/2011)(readMedia)-- The American Lung Association in New York and the Pediatric Asthma Coalition of the Capital Region, which works under the guidance of Whitney M. Young Jr. Health Services, announced that they will be offering a one-day program to train facilitators to deliver the Lung Association's Open Airways For Schools program. Open Airways For Schools is an asthma management program for elementary school children in grades 3-5, ages 8-11 that is delivered in the school setting. The facilitator training will be held at Hudson Valley Community College in Troy from 8:30 am until 4:30 pm on Saturday, March 12. An optional Train the Trainer program that certifies individuals to train other program facilitators will be held immediately afterward from 5pm until 8pm.

This training is ideal for respiratory therapists, school nurses, parents of children with asthma and others interested in helping children with asthma manage their disease. Those interested in registering for the program need not have a clinical background but should possess basic knowledge about asthma and be familiar with medications used to treat the disease.

The Open Airways For Schools curriculum consists of a total of six 40-minute group lessons for children with asthma held during the school day. The curriculum incorporates an interactive teaching approach – utilizing group discussion, stories, games and role play – to promote students' active involvement in the learning process.

Those who wish to register for the program must pay a $50 registration fee. The fee for students is $25. The training fee will be refunded to participants upon completion of their first presentation. All trainees will receive Open Airways For Schools classroom kits, which contain easy-to-use teaching materials including posters and hand-outs. Each lesson includes materials for the children to take home to their parents. All curriculum materials are available in English and Spanish.

"We've been working closely with the Pediatric Asthma Coalition to bring our well-regarded program to the Capital Region so students here can benefit, said Irwin Berlin, MD, Board Chair of the American Lung Association in New York. "Open Airways For Schools has been a tremendous success in New York City and in communities across the state. We're confident that it will also be a success in the Capital Region. Our ultimate goal is to bring this program to every school in New York state so all children with asthma have the tools and confidence they need to manage their disease."

Berlin noted that more than 370,000 children in New York state are living with asthma. It is a leading cause of emergency room visits and missed school days.

"We are very excited about this opportunity. There are many areas in our region where children with asthma have high rates of Emergency Department utilization and hospitalizations. Uncontrolled asthma is the leading cause of school absenteeism and this program has the ability to change that," said Erin Elfeldt, MPH, CHES, Regional Coordinator, Pediatric Asthma Coalition of the Capital Region.

The goal of Open Airways For Schools is to enable children with asthma to take care of their asthma on a daily basis. Children who complete the Open Airways for Schools program are able to recognize the symptoms of asthma when they first occur; carry out appropriate management steps; discuss and solve problems related to asthma with parents, medical professionals, teachers, and friends; and feel more confident about taking care of their asthma on a daily basis.

Open Airways For Schools is an important component of a comprehensive approach to asthma management in schools as promoted by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and American Lung Association's Asthma Friendly Schools Initiative. The program has been approved and recommended by the National Association of School Nurses.

Berlin said the plan is to initially offer Open Airways for Schools in several elementary schools in the City of Albany before expanding the program to more areas. Beginning next year, all graduating students in the Registered Respiratory Therapy (RRT) program at Hudson Valley Community College will be trained to deliver Open Airways For Schools as part of their rotation, ensuring a steady supply of instructors in the Capital District.

"We're excited that our respiratory therapy students will have the opportunity to be trained to deliver the Open Airways For Schools program in the community," said Patricia G. Hyland, M.Ed, RRT, Department Chair of the Cardiorespiratory and Emergency Medicine Programs at Hudson Valley Community College. "Seven students graduating this May are signed up to be trained as facilitators this month. Our goal is to have all our senior respiratory therapy students complete the training as part of their rotation beginning next year."

Open Airways For Schools is currently funded and implemented by eight of the 11 state-funded Regional Childhood Asthma Coalitions created to build local capacity to reduce the burden of childhood asthma in New York. The coalitions' long-term outcome goals are to decrease school absenteeism, hospitalizations, and emergency room visits.

Those interested in pre-registering for the program can visit the Lung Association's website at Those with questions about the program should contact Liz D'Imperio via email at


About the American Lung Association in New York

Now in its second century, the American Lung Association in New York is the leading statewide organization working to save lives by improving lung health and preventing lung disease. With your generous support, the American Lung Association is "Fighting for Air" through research, education and advocacy. For more information about the Lung Association, a Better Business Bureau Accredited Charity Seal Holder, or to support our work, call 1-800-LUNG-USA (1-800-586-4872) or visit

About the North Country Asthma Coalition

The mission of the North Country Asthma Coalition is to establish a pediatric asthma education network that is accessible to the North Country communities. Our focus is to facilitate all entities to work together in a team approach to provide holistic asthma education to reduce the burden of asthma in children residing in the counties of Clinton, Franklin, Essex, Warren, Washington, and Hamilton. The North Country Asthma Coalition is a project of the American Lung Association in New York funded by the New York state Department of Health.

About the Pediatric Asthma Coalition of the Capital Region (PACCR)

The goal of the Pediatric Asthma Coalition of the Capital Region (PACCR) is to decrease asthma morbidity and mortality in Capital Region children, ages 1-17, with poor socio-economic status (as defined by having Medicaid, Medicaid Managed Care or no health insurance).PACCR focuses on eastern upstate New York, specifically the counties of Albany, Columbia, Fulton, Greene, Montgomery, Rensselaer, Saratoga, Schenectady and Schoharie.

About Whitney M. Young, Jr. Health Services

Whitney M. Young, Jr. Health Services is a community based, 501(c) 3 non-profit corporation which provides affordable, accessible primary and preventative medical, dental and addiction services to the uninsured and medically underserved people of the Capital Region. Whitney Young currently operates seven health facilities, including 3 school-based health centers in Albany City elementary schools. Whitney Young's mission is to provide Capital Region residents with access to consistent quality health care without regard to income. Whitney Young serves more than 21,000 people annually. For more information, please visit us on the web at