This summer, faculty and students from Samford University’s College of Health Sciences collaborated with Alabama Allergy and Asthma Center to host a virtual young teen asthma and wellness camp. The camp was geared towards children 12-16 years with moderate to severe asthma.
The camp has been held face-to-face in previous years, but this year, the camp was moved to a virtual format to protect participants from COVID-19. COVID-19 is a respiratory illness that can affect the upper and lower airways causing those who suffer from asthma to be more vulnerable, making the camp’s adherence to guidelines all the more significant.
To ensure that the camp would still be fully interactive and educational from a virtual format, campers received a box of supplies prior to the start of camp and many resources were made available online including educational asthma games. Multiple camp sessions were held through computer-based conferencing and online portals during the month of June and more than 30 children participated in the camp.
The camp supplies and activities took a wholistic approach to asthma management and wellness. The campers participated in nutrition, exercise and music activities in addition to completing asthma self-management curriculum.
Ida Moffett School of Nursing faculty members Ellen Buckner, Kristen Johnston, Julie Head, along with Ida Moffett School of Nursing undergraduate and graduate students, provided asthma self-management education and conducted research surveys. Mary Worthington, McWhorter School of Pharmacy professor, led classes on best practices in medication management. Amy Cameron, instructor and director of the School of Public Health dietetic internship program, provided healthy eating education and cooking preparation and demonstration along with five dietetic interns. Lydia Thurston, School of Health Professions physical therapy associate professor, and Doctor of Physical Therapy students assisted with activity planning and Jabril Cooper, School of Health Professions instructor and clinical lab coordinator, provided asthma self-management education. Community professionals from various organizations also collaborated for the camp, including Weily Soong, Michael Polcari, Felicia Pike and Al Keith. The curriculum was based on national standards, and delivered through Asthma Blues® Asthma Education Tools: “Music with a Message that Matters!”®
“Our goal was to increase the asthma self-management skills of our campers through improved knowledge, adherence and responsibility,” said Buckner. “We certainly saw a growth in symptom management, self-efficacy and coping skills from the campers but additionally positive was the growth we saw in the parents of the participants who demonstrated ways to reinforce and support effective asthma self-management in their teens at home.”
Camp participants and parents completed surveys and the outcome data will be used to complete a program evaluation. Buckner says the team plans to use the data to improve upon the camp curriculum and create a permanent virtual asthma camp for teens.
The camp was hosted by the Alabama Allergy and Asthma Center and funded through a donation from the American Pulmonary Medicine Institute.