As coordinator for Fight Asthma Milwaukee Allies, I keep very busy teaching Milwaukee students about asthma: what it is and how to manage it. Last week was especially busy, as I also was gearing up for Milwaukee Public Schools’ anti-idling campaign. It was so great to see young students taking action to make the air they breathe better.
As the bell rang at the end of the day, students at Congress Elementary School ran up to parked cars, vans and buses and asked drivers to turn off the ignition and pledge to not idle. Check out the photos from the event. It’s part of an anti-idling campaign involving 20 other MPS schools through an asthma management grant from the Centers for Disease Control. FAM Allies received an additional grant from the CDC to provide these same schools with asthma education.
We don’t know what causes asthma, and there’s no cure, but we do know there are many triggers asthma sufferers should avoid. Pollutants in the air are a big trigger, and Milwaukee ranks among the nation’s worst cities for air quality.
Vehicles that idle outside schools can pollute air inside the building as well as the outdoors. Exposure to exhaust can cause lung damage and respiratory problems, worsening asthma and existing allergies. According to MPS, about 17 percent of its students have asthma. Asthma is among the top reasons for trips to Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin’s emergency room.
The next time you find yourself sitting in your car, waiting to pick up your child from school, practice or other appointment, I ask that you turn the key and be idle-free. We’ll all breathe easier.
-Erin Lee, coordinator for Fight Asthma Milwaukee Allies.