By Lena Mitchell/NEMS Daily Journal Corinth Bureau
TISHOMINGO – Children as young as 6 years old must learn to manage their asthma, a condition that will be with them for life.
Reinforcing what they must do to try to prevent asthma attacks, as well as what to do when an attack happens, may have more impact when they are learning with other children and in a fun environment.
Camp Breathe Ezzzze, a camp for children with asthma that is under way this week at Tishomingo State Park, uses the combination of learning and fun activities to help the children adopt habits to keep them as healthy as possible while coping with their chronic condition.
“Before we brought the children here to the camp we had them with their parents at the hospital for a group parent-child education session,” said Kathy Haynes, camp coordinator and respiratory therapy manager at North Mississippi Medical Center in Tupelo. “With the camp we want to teach the child and make them more responsible.”
Medications are a necessary element of the camp, but supervised play is also important, including walks, swimming, ATV safety and rides, and fishing.
Campers Hunter Fleming, 8, and Jayla Roby, 13 returned for their second camp this year.
“I liked going swimming, going fishing, going on the four-wheeler and playing,” Hunter said.
Jayla participates in school athletics, including basketball and softball, but the camp is also special.
“I wanted to come back because even though you have asthma you get to have fun,” she said.
North Mississippi Medical Center started the camp in 2002, and this year the 60 camper spots were filled quickly. The group includes 40 returning campers and 20 who are participating for the first time.
“All of this takes a lot of people working together,” Haynes said. “We have junior counselors, 14 to 18 years old, who have asthma and participated in the camp, as well as siblings and children of staff. We appreciate United Way of Northeast Mississippi and Project Hope, which are our consistent supporters.”