Asthma Awareness Week

Asthma Awareness Week 2014 is the 13-19 October with Balloon Day on Friday 17 October.

Have you been wondering ‘What is 52′.  At least 52 New Zealanders will die from asthma this year.  People are surprised to learn that asthma can kill – many people regard asthma as a mild disease that causes the odd episode of wheezy breathing.  For at least 52 families in New Zealand this year, asthma will be tragically memorable.

We need your help to fund research and provide education and support to all New Zealanders with asthma.  Please donate generously.

Why balloons?

We use balloons as 1 in 4 children will struggle to blow up a balloon, their asthma won’t let them.  Why is this?  Asthma causes the breathing tubes to swell. It’s easy for an asthmatic to breathe in, however, when they try to breathe out, to perhaps blow up a balloon, the lungs struggle to push air through the swollen breathing tubes.

Teresa Demetriou, our national education services manager explains it – “When you breath in, it is an active process involving  the diaphragm and the muscles in between the ribs, and when you breathe out the process is reversed and you relax your diaphragm and rib muscles to expel the air.  When you have swollen breathing tubes, for instance if your asthma is not well controlled, then the breathing out part of the process becomes active as well.  This means that you have to work really hard to push the air out of your lungs again.”

Can you imagine seeing your child unable to breathe? Clients like Lana Puru tell us about how hospital visits with their young two-year old son Harley were “especially frightening and often ended in tears for us all.”

While our balloons convey a serious message, they are also a positive symbol.  Every year our societies and trusts hold a huge range of fun, educational and entertaining activities in their local regions.  Previously these have included hospital visits, free resources, fun days for kids, free breakfasts and public demonstrations.  Keep a look out on our website or facebook page to see what’s happening in your community or how you can help.

What can you do to help?

The Asthma Foundation receives no government funding.  Asthma Awareness Week and Balloon Day are our major fundraising events for the year.  For us to continue our work in education, research and advocacy we need your support.

If you’d like to hold a Balloon Day fundraising activity or would like some posters and balloons to promote Asthma Awareness Week please email

For Balloon Day our message is simple – ’1 in 4 kids struggle to blow up a balloon, asthma won’t let them’.