TENANT SPOTLIGHT: The Asthma and Allergy Foundation (AAFA)
This month we feature The Asthma and Allergy Foundation (AAFA), which was founded in 1981 and celebrates its 40th anniversary this year!
For four decades, AAFA has provided prescription assistance, equipment and education to kids, providers, nurses, and parents in the region. Today, AAFA continues to serve kids in their homes and through schools. In the United States, the current childhood asthma prevalence is estimated to be just under 10% (the current rate in St. Louis is twice as high), and there is a significant disparity between minorities and white children. Blacks are five times as likely to visit an emergency department due to asthma and three times as likely to die from an attack.
“We can and must do better” says Executive Director Chris Martinez. “If we can build healthier environments, friendlier resources and respectful, community driven education we know we can fix so much of this, both in St. Louis and across the country. Asthma equity is racial equity.”
In response to Covid-19 during the current academic year, AAFA was able to get back-to-school asthma kits to over 200 school districts throughout Missouri, helping those kids who returned to in-person classes to stay safe through inhalers, equipment and strategies for school nurses. The program remains in effect and AAFA will continue to be nimble in its response to Covid-19 and other developing needs.
Since food allergies also continue to increase in children, AAFA provides education and community to families doing their best to thrive with these challenges. AAFA will be increasing its advocacy by engaging restaurants and looking for ways to make eating out less challenging for families and by working to support those with food allergies who are also dealing with food insecurity.
The future looks busy and bright for AAFA. An ambitious agenda around improving conditions for both those with asthma and food allergies should help make our region stronger and more equitable. “If a child can’t breathe, he or she can’t thrive,” says AAFA Board President Mike Davidson. “Uncontrolled asthma can disrupt learning, sleep, play, and many other things that underlie a healthy and happy childhood. Similarly, severe food allergies can lead to anaphylaxis and other frightening episodes. We’re pleased to play a role in fostering better lives for vulnerable children in St. Louis.”