One in seven children (133,000) have asthma in New Zealand. It’s also estimated that 586,000 school days are lost each year due to asthma related symptoms in children.    
7 May 2019 is World Asthma Day and is celebrated around the world to raise the profile and continued education of asthma. A fun and engaging campaign for schools to celebrate World Asthma Day will be run by Asthma and Respiratory Foundation NZ (ARFNZ), the national leader in respiratory health educational resources.      

Letitia O’Dwyer, Chief Executive of Asthma and Respiratory Foundation NZ says this is the second year they have run the World Asthma Day schools’ campaign.

“Last year we had over 90 schools participate on the day by doing activities or fundraising for the Foundation. We received great feedback from schools as the students had a fabulous time doing the activities while also learning about asthma.”   

“Statistics show there will be at least four children in a class of 30 students who have asthma, so we know this is a very important topic. This May we’ll be providing free activity packs for schools with a focus on asthma emergency awareness – encouraging students to learn what to do in an asthma emergency and asking schools to check their asthma emergency kit is up-to-date. Making these preparations in advance could very well save lives,” says Letitia.       

The Foundation is a charitable organisation that strives to provide resources and education across all areas of the community despite receiving no government funding. Some of its school-related initiatives include Sailor the Puffer Fish, a musical show educating primary school children about asthma and was recently launched in Te Reo Māori. It also provides a ‘Teachers’ Asthma Toolkit’, designed for teachers to have important information about asthma in one place – via an interactive website.   

St Benedict’s School in Wellington taking part in World Asthma Day 2018

The Foundation is also encouraging students to fundraise this World Asthma Day to aid asthma education, prevention and management in the community. There are prizes up for grabs – for every $25 a school raises gives them one entry into the draw to win one of three scooters, kindly donated by Micro Scooters NZ.   
“Winning schools could use the scooters as a prize for an outstanding leader or someone who demonstrates a positive attitude within their school community,” says Letitia.   

Baradene College of the Sacred Heart student and past fundraiser, Annie says, ” In a school where leadership is encouraged amongst young ladies, we were breathless with excitement to be given this opportunity and get the school involved for this cause.”   

World Asthma Day at schools is open to early childhood education centres, primary schools, intermediate schools and secondary schools.   Register your school here for a World Asthma Day free activity pack by 8 April 2019. Order an Asthma Emergency Kit for your school here. View the Teachers’ Asthma Toolkit.


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