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Series of Free Asthma Camps for Children Starting at Duquesne University

Some at-risk children and their parents will spend Saturday, April 24, at Duquesne University attending the first in a series of asthma camps to be hosted by the University.

Two Duquesne University researchers who were involved in a study of asthma in inner-city children have received state funding to support camps at the A.J. Palumbo Center from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on three Saturdays: April 24, May 15 and August 7.

Dr. Jennifer Padden and Dr. Nicole Marcotullio, assistant professors in the Mylan School of Pharmacy, were awarded a $60,831 grant from Pennsylvania’s Commonwealth Universal Research Enhancement (CURE) program for this initiative.

The pharmacy school will take a leadership role in organizing and managing the camps and screening activities, in collaboration with physicians from the Department of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology at Allegheny General Hospital and members of For Your Good Health, a regional nonprofit focused on health education.

More than 50 Duquesne pharmacy student volunteers, under the direction of pharmacy fellows Katie Garcia and Jonathan Ogurchak, will staff the camps.

During the morning session, 5- to 17-year-olds will participate in screening tests and learn educational materials that focus on asthma, smoking and the importance of healthy eating habits and physical activity. After lunch, Duquesne University athletes and other volunteers will teach campers basketball fundamentals. Parents and caregivers are encouraged to stay and participate in a smoking cessation workshop and an Ask the Physician presentation. Health screenings will also be provided for caregivers.

The program was developed in response to a recent asthma study that found 82 percent of inner-city children had undiagnosed or poorly managed asthma.

“The first step is screening to identify as many children as we can who suffer from asthma, obesity or hypertension,” explained Marcotullio. “These conditions are often related because children with asthma frequently are not physically active so they are predisposed to obesity, which goes hand-in-hand with hypertension.”

“We then invite these children to the camps, where we can educate them about asthma symptoms and triggers, and provide activities and strategies that we hope will increase positive health outcomes,” added Padden, who developed an ongoing interest in asthma research following her own volunteer experience at an asthma camp.

There is no charge for the screenings or the camps, and free transportation to and from the Palumbo Center is available. Lunch and giveaways will be provided.

Duquesne University

Founded in 1878, Duquesne is consistently ranked among the nation's top Catholic universities for its award-winning faculty and tradition of academic excellence. Duquesne, a campus of nearly 9,500 graduate and undergraduate students, has been nationally recognized for its academic programs, community service and commitment to sustainability. Follow Duquesne University on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.