Piedmont Park event aids clean air cause

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Kites460-586x350For most of us, spring is a wonderful time to enjoy some fresh air, but for too many Georgians, especially children, just taking a deep breath can be a challenge.

According to the Georgia Department of Public Health, the prevalence of asthma in children 17 and younger was nearly 11 percent as of 2013. Rates were higher among boys than girls, higher among black children than white children and significantly higher among children in low-income families, the department’s data show.

Mothers & Others for Clean Air, a program of the American Lung Association of the Southeast, works to combat such statistics. The group — co-founded in 2004 by Laura Turner Seydel and Stephanie Blank — champions public policy that improves air quality, fights climate change and reduces air pollution.

“Every year in our state, we have kids miss almost half a million days of school because of asthma, ” Blank said during an appearance she and Seydel made to the local show “Atlanta & Company” this week. “It’s the No. 1 reason why kids go into the emergency room. It’s also the No. 1 reason why employees miss work — if their kids can’t go to school, they can’t go to work.”

Indeed, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta notes on its “Asthma Basics” page that it’s the top reason children miss school and that “flareups are the most common cause of pediatric emergency room visits due to a chronic illness.”

“We have a higher-than-average rate of asthma here in Georgia, ” Blank said. “We still have a lot of work we need to do around reducing pollution and the contributing factors to asthma.”

Mothers & Others plans an upcoming event, “Let’s Go Fly a Kite, ” to bring advocates and families together in a fun outdoor setting. It’s planned for 11 a.m.-1 p.m. April 30 at Park Tavern in Piedmont Park, 500 10th St. N.E., Atlanta. The host committee members are Ginny Brewer, Ryan and Kysha Cameron, Kim Lister, Beth Pann, Angela Smith, Cathleen Smith, Tasneem Bhatia and Kelly Willett.

The event kicks off Asthma Awareness Month, which begins May 1. Admission: $10 for a custom kite, $25 for a kite and picnic lunch from Park Tavern, or $90 for a family package including four kites, four lunches and a kite-flying lesson.

For information and tickets, see mothersandothersforcleanair.org. For sponsorship opportunities, contact Hilary Merlin at hilary.merlin@lungse.org.

Stephanie Blank, left, and Laura Turner Seydel

Stephanie Blank, left, and Laura Turner Seydel

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