Tag Archives: Tempe

Understanding life with asthma

Darius Collins tries to blow on his pretend air tube while his parents watch.

Try this. Roll up a piece of paper. Stuff it with cotton balls. Wrap the roll in tightly wound rubber bands to hold the cotton in place.

Then put  your mouth up to one end and try to breathe. That’s what it feels like when a child is in the throes of an acute asthma attack.

Understanding what asthma is — what it does to the body and how to respond — can help children cope with a disease that is not curable, but is in most cases completely controllable. That’s why Cardon Children’s Medical Center provides free asthma education and support programs for families in the East Valley and beyond.

One such event was held last Saturday in a classroom overlooking Tempe’s Kiwanis Recreation Center indoor wave pool. I was there with RAK multimedia journalist Vicki Balint, who was producing a video about the asthma support group and education program.

Certified asthma educator Diana Braskett, RN, CPNP, AE-C, was stationed at the first table families encountered after signing in. She pulled out a diagram of the lungs, answered questions and showed children how to make a pretend air tube.

Diana Braskett demonstrates the air tube activity.

“The cotton balls simulate the effect of swelling,” she explained. “The rubber bands are muscles constricting.”

Having asthma can be tedious. Braskett knows; she has a mild case herself. “You get tired of taking medicine,” she says. “I can relate. It’s especially hard for the little ones. They don’t understand.”

But understanding is key to the ability to carry on, to stay healthy, to participate in the activities a child enjoys.

Children must become familiar with their own particular asthma “triggers,” which may include dust, allergies, seasonal changes, rain, humidity, cold, exercise, upper respiratory infections and more, Braskett told me.

They must learn modifications to avoid those triggers — sometimes something as simple as knowing to stay indoors when the weather (or pollution) is bad. And they must follow their doctor’s treatment plan to the letter.

Each child’s treatment plan is different, of course, so no one approach applies across the board. (Learn more about asthma on Cardon Children’s website.)

Asthma educator Kim Reiners talks to Keegan Palmer about a peak flow meter.

Surprisingly, exercise is usually encouraged. Swimming, especially, can be good for children with asthma (if they are not sensitive to chlorine) because it forces rhythmic breathing and helps them develop upper-body strength. Children for whom exercise can be an asthma trigger may be taught to use their “rescue meds” before they participate, Baskett says.

“Some parents are afraid to let their kids exercise when it can be the best thing for them,” adds Kim Reiners, R.N., CPNP, AE-C, who pioneered the asthma support group and education effort at Cardon Children’s. Her station at the event allowed kids the chance to blow hard into a peak flow meter to measure their speed of expiration, or ability to breathe out.

At another station, Paula White, R.N., CNP, AE-C, was leading a board game. While it didn’t have the most enticing name (“The Breathe Easy Asthma Education Interactive Tool,” by Merck), the kids seemed to enjoy the opportunity to drive little cars around a “city,” landing on destinations like hospitals and parks to learn specific facts about asthma.

Paula White shows Isaiah and Issac Salter how to playan asthma education board game as their mom watches.

Families that attended the program were issued free wristbands for a swim in the wave pool after the event. So at times it seemed the greatest challenge they faced that morning was finding the patience to wait until the pool opened.

Small world stories: the intern and the summer job

Interns Patrick O'Connor and Veronica Jones at our May 2011 cover shoot.

When we interviewed him for a graphic design internship, Patrick O’Connor told us that he is often “quiet, initially.” When he started working with us last month, he proved to be just that. Hardworking, talented, eager to learn the ropes — and quiet.

So when he spoke up during an impromptu meeting I called in the art department Monday morning, I paid attention.

“I made it into the magazine,” he said. Quietly.

I looked at him, puzzled. He showed me a page in the June 2009 issue of our magazine. A page that included an ad for Hubbard Sports Camp.

“That’s me,” he said, pointing to the tall guy in the back.

Patrick is a 2005 graduate of Brophy College Preparatory in Phoenix. He’s a December 2010 graduate of the University of Arizona, with a BFA in studio art and visual communications design. And during the summer of 2008 he was a counselor at Hubbard Sports Camp, where he coached a variety of sports for kids ages 4½-13.

Patrick clearly has a love of sports. While he was at UofA, he worked as a freelance videographer for Tucson’s Fox 11. He shot footage of football, basketball and soccer at three Tucson high schools. He also shot video for the UofA’s football team for both practices and games.

Patrick is juggling two internships these days. He spends the mornings with us and the afternoons at Tempe-based Boon, which designs and markets innovative products and gear for babies.

This capable young man, who favors plaid, button-down shirts and clean, fresh graphic design, is quietly securing  his place in a successful future.

Photos at top and bottom by RAK staff photographer Daniel Friedman.

Special thanks to Art Director Michelle-Renee Adams for enhancing the photo (circle) so we could see Patrick’s face in the group photo from the ad.

A chance to be girly

I grew up with two brothers. I raised two sons. So I never spent a lot of time doing girly stuff.

If my brothers (or sons) were doing something that didn’t interest me, I busied myself with a book or some sort of project. Pampering activities that most women enjoy (pedicures, facials) don’t appeal to me. Shopping has always felt stressful and goal-oriented. “Hanging out at the mall” has never been on my list of fun things to do.

On Saturday I had a rare opportunity to do just that with four female friends ranging in age from 10 to…well, old enough to have a 17-year-old daughter. I spent the afternoon with them at Arizona Mills in Tempe, ostensibly because the two youngest in our bunch — my honorary goddaughter, Ace Jenkins, and 12-year-old Solvay Blomquist, daughter of Calendar & Directories Editor Mala Blomquist — were practically salivating at the chance to visit what was billed as a “Pokémon Party for Arizona Families.”

You can read Mala’s blog to find out what that experience involved. I was more enchanted by the sideshow — the chance to people-watch (which I’ve always enjoyed), take pictures, enjoy my time with Ace and revel in the comfortable banter between a mother and two daughters who have a loving and extraordinarily close relationship built on honesty, trust and a wicked sense of humor.

I talked with Mala’s older daughter Mylan (the 17-year-old) about the dress she’s chosen for her prom. It was fun to listen to her describe it and then see a picture of it on her phone. We stopped to look at shops like Juicy Couture, Sanrio (a whole store devoted to Hello Kitty?) and Black Market Minerals, where I found my camera drawn to the vast array of colors, textures, bobbles, bangles and shiny, glittering objects.

My energy ran out about the same time as my camera’s battery. It was a good day, and a good time to call it a day.

It could have been “Beastly,” but it wasn’t

A young girl who lives about as far north as you can get in the northwest Valley went to Tempe to see a movie with her dad.

There are movie theaters closer to their house, of course, but this particular movie, on this particular day, wasn’t playing anywhere else.

It was one of those movies they call “sneak previews.” Promoters, like Barclay Communications, make tickets available to media outlets, like Raising Arizona Kids. We help build “the buzz” about the movie by promoting ticket giveaways in print, online and through social media. Families who win tickets get to see a free movie before it opens to the public.

This girl’s mom won tickets to Monday night’s sneak preview screening of the film “Beastly,” starring teen heartthrob Alex Pettyfer, Vanessa Hudgens from “High School Musical” fame and Mary-Kate Olsen. (The movie opens in theaters on Friday, Mar. 4.)

The girl was really excited about this “date night” with her dad, who agreed to drive her across town (45 minutes each way) to see a movie marketed to tween- and teenage girls. They had guaranteed tickets, but for some reason the person they talked to at the theater didn’t understand and told them all the seats were filled. Disappointed, they went home.

That could have been the end of the story. But the girl’s mom wrote to me to tell me what happened. She was direct, but respectful. She was frustrated, but avoided blame. She told me her story, she said, because “I just wanted to give you this feedback. My daughter was in tears.” She didn’t ask for a thing, not even an email in response.

When I told Alison Frost, manager of Barclay’s entertainment division, what happened, she responded immediately, in the most positive and professional way possible.

“I am sorry to hear he was turned away but I don’t understand why,” she wrote. “I was there, and we had all the RSVPs for RAK on a list,  and [this name] was on it, and all seating was guaranteed. My guess is that there was some miscommunication between him and theatre…I was going back and forth escorting winners in, so I’m not sure what happened.  I would actually like to speak to him to see what exactly transpired, because I’m a bit surprised and would also like to apologize. I don’t know if you noticed, but I always include my cell number on all winner letters so if any problems arise, I can address them on site.”

I’m not using the family’s name because, well, it turns out the dad didn’t look at the ticket voucher and didn’t realize he had a cell phone number for the lady in charge. And I don’t want to embarrass him for not reading directions. (“Men!!” as his wife wrote back later, when she fully understood what happened.)

What I will do, however, is share how this incident ended. Because we at Raising Arizona Kids never want to be the source of any child’s tears, we are sending the family some movie passes they can use to see “Beastly” (or any other movie) whenever they like. And because Alison Frost feels the same way, she messengered over a box of “Beastly” promotional items — a T-shirt, a Wii game, a “Beastly” mask and other logo items — that a northwest Valley girl will be very surprised to see when it arrives at her home later this week.