Sydney loves being outdoors, whether she’s just playing, going to say "hello" to a neighbor’s pet or spending time in her mother’s garden trying to "replant" a tree branch.
But the outdoors can be unfriendly to Sydney. The 6-year-old has asthma and airborne pollen, like ragweed, can ultimately trigger an asthma attack.
Asthma is an inflammatory lung disease. Children who have asthma may experience coughing, wheezing or difficulty breathing. Asthma is also the top cause of school absenteeism. It accounts for more than 14 million missed days annually nationwide—540,000 every year in Georgia.
At home, when Sydney’s asthma flares up, she has her own nebulizer—a breathing machine that delivers liquid medicine in the form of a mist to the airways. However, in what’s becoming a problem that a lot of families are facing, insurance won’t pay for a second nebulizer so Sydney can keep one at home and one at school. The machines cost about $100 each.
Carrying a nebulizer back and forth from home to school can be difficult for a child and potentially a health risk if the device is left behind or lost. So, until recently, Sydney and some of her classmates had to share a nebulizer that belonged to one of the students because the school did not have one of its own for them to use.
And, there’s definitely a need for Sydney to have a nebulizer at school. Late September through March—a good portion of the school year—is when the first-grader’s asthma causes her the most problems.
“When it’s real cold and when things are in bloom are her worst times,” said Sydney’s mother, Melissa, who first noticed her daughter’s breathing problems when she was 4 years old.