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Pool party . . . Rikylah Newton (7) enjoys some time at the Waitaki Aquatic Centre. PHOTO: TYSON YOUNG

North Otago Asthma Society nurse educator Fiona Stratford is excited about marking World Asthma Day on Tuesday.

Various activities on the day and later in the year will help raise asthma awareness.

Active Asthma Kids

Oamaru girl Rikylah Newton (7) is one of the children who have been sponsored through the Active Asthma Kids programme, which the North Otago Asthma Society uses to promote respiratory health.

With her sponsorship, Rikylah decided to pursue a term of free swimming lessons at the Waitaki Aquatic Centre.

Since she took up swimming, her mother, Tania Newton, has noticed an improvement in her asthma.

“The swimming lessons do help her.”

Rikylah has also started playing Rippa rugby and touch.

“We’ve seen Fiona a couple of times and she gave us some pamphlets on asthma and how to help Rikylah with it.”

It was not until joining the Asthma Society that Mrs Newton was taught the correct way to give Rikylah her inhaler.

“We actually realised that we were giving her her inhaler wrong – and that’s probably why her asthma was a bit out of control.”

Since being taught the proper technique to administer the inhaler, Mrs Newton had seen an improvement in her daughter’s condition.

Special visitor

Sailer the Pufferfish is an asthma mascot for children in New Zealand. To help raise national awareness, Sailer and entertainer Chris Lam Sam have been touring the country, providing interactive free shows.

The pair will be in North Otago on June 13 for shows at Oamaru North School (9.30am), Fenwick School (11.30am) and Palmerston Primary School (2pm).

If parents want to take their children to a show but do not have transportation, they can contact Fiona Stratford (434-3202) to arrange a lift.

Oamaru rocks

To help raise awareness of World Asthma Day on Tuesday, painted rocks with North Otago Asthma Society markings will be hidden around Oamaru.

People who find one of the special rocks will receive a prize from the society. More information can be found on the North Otago Asthma and Oamaru Rocks Facebook pages.

Statistics

Asthma Respiratory Foundation New Zealand says asthma is the third-leading cause of death in New Zealand. The condition affects one in six New Zealanders.

More than 521,000 people take medication for asthma; one in nine adults, and one in seven children (Source: New Zealand Health Survey).

Large numbers of children (3552, or 410 per 100,000, in 2015) are still being admitted to hospital with asthma, and some of these will have had a potentially life-threatening attack.

By far the highest number of people being admitted to hospital with asthma are Maori, Pasifika and people living in the most deprived areas. Maori are 3.4 times and Pasifika 3.9 times more likely to be hospitalised than Europeans or other New Zealanders, and people living in the most deprived areas are 3.7 times more likely to be hospitalised than those in the least deprived areas.