Camp gives children with asthma Second Wind
By Kathy Chaffin
For 9-year-old Ansley Sharum, having asthma sometimes makes her feel like she’s being left out.
“I don’t get to do a lot of stuff,” she said. “I can’t play tag for a long time or I’ll probably have an asthma attack.”
Last year, Ansley’s breathing problems kept her from attending the Second Wind Asthma Camp at Dan Nicholas Park. But this week, she’s participating in the fifth annual camp with her 11-year-old brother, Lee, and enjoying every minute of it.
Not only is it a chance to do some different activities, Ansley said, it’s a great place to make new friends “that have the same type things going on.”
Lee said being asthmatic is hard for him because he has to stop a lot when he’s out on the playground. On the afternoon of his first day of the three-day camp, he said he had learned by doing yoga to “breathe deeply so the asthma will stop.”
Steve Safrit of The Forum taught the yoga class for the campers.
Nine-year-old Tiasia Cuthbertson, of Salisbury, sounded like an adult when she talked about the difficulties accompanying asthma. She returned to being a child and her eyes lit up, however, when she switched to talking about the camp.
“I think it’s cool,” she said. “It’s a nice opportunity to come here …”
Jaise Rivens, who is also 9 and from Salisbury, said he can’t remember when he didn’t have asthma. “It’s not fun,” he said. “You can’t do a lot of things that you want to do, like when I play outside and have an asthma attack, I can’t run. I have to slow down.”
This is Jaise’s second year at the Second Wind Asthma Camp.
Though having asthma sometimes limits their physical activities, it hasn’t limited their dreams.
Ansley wants to be a veterinarian, and Lee wants to be a wildlife officer like their father. Tiasia wants to be a pediatric nurse, and Jaise wants to be a doctor.
The belief that they can do anything they want with their lives despite their asthma is one of the main lessons that Dr. Chris Magryta hopes the 25 children at the camp will take home with them.
Magryta, who sees most of the asthma patients at Salisbury Pediatric Associates, also hopes to educate the children on the importance of good nutrition, exercise, spirituality and connecting with the environment in managing their disease.
In its fifth year, the camp has more than doubled in size from 12 participants the first year.
The main sponsors of the Second Wind Asthma Camp ó which is free to the children ó are Rowan Regional Medical Center, Salisbury Pediatric Associates and the Southern Piedmont Community Care Plan. The food for the camp, all of it healthy, is being provided by Chick-Fil-A, Jersey Mike’s Subs and Morrison Healthcare Food Service.
Gretchen McCall, who works at Salisbury Pediatrics, said organizers try to offer the camp to children who have never had a chance to attend before allowing any to attend twice.
Among the topics for this year’s camp are triggers that aggravate asthma and the effect of the air quality index and nutrition on asthma patients.
Magryta pointed out triggers in the woods to campers during a nature hike, and Channel 3 WSOC TV meteorologist John Ahrens was scheduled to make a presentation on the air quality index.
Judy Adrian, an instructor for the respiratory program at Stanly Community College, volunteered at the camp along with two of her students. McCall said they will be talking to the campers about self-esteem and peer pressure.
Gretchen McCall’s 10-year-old daughter, Kelly, was also volunteering at the Second Wind Asthma Camp.
“It’s pretty cool to hang out with the kids and stuff,” she said. “You get to help them make crafts and stuff like that.”
Contact Kathy Chaffin at 704-797-7683.