Specialist holidays a breath of fresh air for kids with asthma

Research shows Asthma UK holidays help children to manage their own asthma and reduce their need for healthcare

Research shows Asthma UK holidays help children to manage their own asthma and reduce their need for healthcare

Asthma UK is offering children and young people with asthma an opportunity to go on a potentially life-changing adventure holiday.

For many youngsters with asthma, missing out on exercise can be a normal part of their school lives. Asthma UK's 'Kick Asthma' holidays teach children and young people how to manage their asthma more effectively so they can exercise safely and in confidence. The holidays are also an opportunity to share experiences and build self-esteem, and are open to youngsters with other related conditions such as eczema and anaphylaxis.

Patrick Ladbury, Asthma UK's Children & Young People's Development Manager, comments: 'Some of the children and young people who come on the holidays have been bullied about their asthma at school or they may be worried that their asthma will stop them taking part in some of the activities. But after a few days they become much more outgoing and begin to realise that their asthma need not stop them taking part, having fun and making new friends.'

The activities on Kick-Asthma holidays are split into two age ranges, 6-11 and 12-17, and can include raft-building, archery and T-shirt designing for the older group and swimming, ten-pin bowling, craft sessions and treasure hunts for the younger age group.

Feedback from past holidays has shown that the holidays really do help children to improve the management of their asthma and therefore reduce the need for healthcare services. 

In a previous survey*, parents reported:

A 9% reduction in the number of visits to their child's GP for their asthma
A 15% reduction in visits to hospital for their child's asthma
A 10% reduction in the number of days their child missed at school
An 11% increase in the number of nights that their child's sleep was undisturbed by their asthma
 

Natalie Miller, 16, has been attending Kick-Asthma holidays for many years. She said: 'I think Kick Asthma holidays are brilliant. I have been coming for so long and it teaches you so much, but in a fun and friendly way.'

The need for these holidays was also highlighted by research undertaken by Asthma UK and Blue Peter in 2005, which revealed that:

Half of the children who filled in the questionnaire did not have well-controlled asthma
One in five of the children are using their blue (reliever) inhaler at least nine times per week, when they shouldn't need to use it more than three times per week
More than a third of the children don't know how their brown (preventer) inhaler helps them to keep their asthma under control
About a third of children said they did not know or were unsure what triggers their asthma
Kick Asthma holidays also provide a break for parents - for some parents of children with asthma, this may be the first time that they have felt confident enough to leave their child with someone else. On the holidays, children are closely supervised by specially-trained volunteers and health care professionals, so they can participate safely in a variety of activities that they may previously have had to miss out on.

Sharlene Harris, mother of 12-year old Orlanzo, who regularly attends the holidays, explains: 'He loves his asthma holiday, he is more outgoing and confident and now understands the importance of taking his medicine and that he isn't alone suffering with his asthma - other children have it too. It gives me, as a lone parent, peace of mind knowing he is with people that are fully trained to look after him. It is the only holiday he has attended for the last two years because of the severity of his asthma which gives him and I a well earned break from each other.'

Kick Asthma holidays are subsidised by Asthma UK and parents are asked to pay as much as they can afford. The price ranges from £20 to £350 depending on ability to pay. For more information, please contact Asthma UK's Supporter & Information Team on 020 7786 5000, email holidays@asthma.org.uk or visit asthma.org.uk.

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