Creating Asthma Friendly Environments

Children and youth with asthma need to be supported where they live, learn and play.

The goal of this website is to provide recommendations and resources for organizations to develop asthma friendly and supportive environments for children and youth. Recommendations and resources are organized by your role in creating asthma-friendly environments. Empowering children in a supportive environment helps children develop life-long skills for controlling their asthma. Your commitment to creating and maintaining an asthma-friendly environment will lead to the better well-being and safety of children and youth in your care. 


Seven Steps for Creating Asthma Friendly Environments

Creating asthma friendly and supportive environments is a shared responsibility that requires a team approach, which includes children and youth with asthma and their parents/guardians, their health care providers and program/team staff.

STEP 1Establish a process to identify children and youth with asthma.

STEP 2Allow children/youth with asthma easy access to (fast-acting) inhalers.

STEP 3Establish a process for handling worsening asthma.

STEP 4Identify and reduce exposure to common asthma triggers within the environment.

STEP 5Encourage children/youth with asthma to participate in all activities, especially physical activities, to the best of their abilities.

STEP 6Provide staff, parents and children/youth opportunities to learn about asthma.

STEP 7Collaborate with families, health care professionals and staff to create asthma friendly environments.

Benefits of Creating Asthma Friendly Environments

The goals, recommendations and implementation strategies described are in response to needs identified by schools, after school programs, recreational and competitive sports programs and are evidence-based. These recommendations and implementation strategies were evaluated for their effectiveness through formal research projects conducted in school settings.  This research demonstrated that asthma friendly and supportive schools could be created and resulted in benefits for schools and students with asthma.[1] Benefits were seen in reduced school absenteeism, increased levels of participation in physical activity, and overall school preparedness, such as identifying and handling worsening asthma and emergency situations.[2] Although these strategies have not been directly evaluated in after school and recreation and competitive sports programs, it is anticipated that the same benefits will be seen in supporting children and youth to be full participants in activities and more engaged, as well as, creating a safe environment for handling worsening asthma.

About the Asthma Program

Ontario’s Asthma Program (AP) is funded by the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long Term Care and is an evidence-based program supporting asthma best practices across a variety of health care settings and community environments, where people with asthma live, learn, work and play...

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1. Cicutto L., To T., Murphy, S. A randomized controlled trial of a public health nurse delivered asthma program to elementary schools. Journal of School Health. 2013; 83:876-884.

2. Cicutto L., Conti E., Evans H., Lewis R., Murphy S., Rautiainen K.C., Sharrard S., Varga J. Creating Asthma Friendly Schools: A Public Health Approach. Journal of School Health. 2006; 76(6):255--8