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 the better well-being and safety of children and youth in your care. 

Child Care

child care

Getting Started:  Creating An Asthma Friendly Child Care Centre in Seven Simple Steps

This section of the website is intended for use by the child care centre community to assist in creating asthma friendly child care centres. Role and Responsibility Checklists have been created for each member of the child care centre community (administrators, providers, families) and are accessible on the left hand navigation links.

As primary caregivers, child care centre staff play an important role in helping children manage their asthma.  When a child’s asthma is well controlled, he/she is able to fully participate in play and learning. 

Asthma friendly child care centres:

  • Create a supportive learning environment for children with asthma
  • Reduce absenteeism
  • Reduce disruption in the classroom
  • Help children with asthma participate fully in child care centre activities, including active play
  • Improve communication between centre personnel, parents/guardians, and health care providers regarding the child’s asthma

The following seven steps can assist with the creation of an asthma friendly child care centre: 

Step 1. Establish a process to identify children with asthma

In order to support children with asthma it is important for all staff to understand who has asthma.  Parent/guardians are encouraged to notify the organization about their child’s asthma (For example, include a question about asthma on all registration forms). 

Step 2. Ensure children with asthma have quick access to asthma medication

Asthma can worsen quickly so easy quick access to asthma medication is very important.  Asthma can be life-threatening. Most children aged seven years or older are capable of deciding when medication is required.  At seven years or older they are also often capable of administering their medication correctly.  Younger children will need assistance with administering medication.  It is important for staff to know which children require assistance and how to administer the medication properly (video demonstrations below).

Step 3. Establish a process for handling worsening asthma.

Develop a policy or a guideline to manage asthma attacks.  A process for handling worsening asthma helps to ensure that all staff, parents/guardians and volunteers whow what to do in an asthma emergency.

Step 4. Identify and reduce common asthma triggers within the organization.

An asthma trigger is anything in the indoor/outdoor environment that causes asthma symptoms (For example, coughing, wheezing, difficulty breathing).  Implementing strategies to reduce exposure to asthma triggers helps to minimize the risk of children experiencing an asthma attack.  Being aware of potential asthma triggers allow organizations to make decisions about;

  • Types of cleaning supplies and scented products used in the organization;
  • Related policies (For example, idle-free zones, scent-reduced and pet-free zones) and indoor air quality (For example, mould, pest control and building maintenance);
  • Outdoor activities and external excursions
  • Indoor/outdoor maintenance and renovations.

Step 5.  Encourage children with asthma to participate in physical activity and play.

It is important to encourage all children to participate in physical activity and play including those with asthma.  All children should participate in moderate to vigorous physical activity every day to achieve health benefits.

Step 6.  Provide opportunities for asthma education (For example, for staff, parents/guardians, volunteers).

Providing asthma education for staff enables them to:

  • Identify common asthma triggers;
  • Understand asthma signs and symptoms;
  • Increase their confidence with managing asthma attacks.

Step 7.  Collaborate with others to create asthma friendly child care centres.

There are a variety of organizations and community partners (For example, health care providers, public health, parents/guardians, community organizations) who can support the development of an asthma friendly child care cedntre.  Collaboration improves access to community resources and services for children with asthma and ensure consistency in asthma management at home and in the community.