Seasoned lung health experts and activists established Breathe DC in 2010 to address an urgent need for a local leader dedicated to safeguarding the lung health of Washington area residents. In 2011 and 2012, Breathe DC carried out an initiative to attain “100% Tobacco Free Campuses” at five universities in the District. During that year, our organization also launched the Smokefree Public Housing project. Our staff provided technical assistance and education on the need and benefits of tobacco free environments, and designed and implemented a pilot smoking cessation program at four public housing developments in the city through a Communities Putting Prevention to Work grant.
Currently, Breathe DC is carrying out the DC Department of Health Community Transformation Grant to continue the work of the Smokefree Public Housing project. Staff is gathering data on barriers, obstacles, and enabling factors to adopt a smokefree public housing policy in the District; raising public awareness on the benefits of smokefree housing policies; and developing free and sustainable smokefree resources to increase residents’ readiness for smokefree policies.
In addition to Smokefree programs, Breathe DC has been successful with providing services for asthma. Our Camp Breathe Happy is a fun, active, and educational day camp that offers the opportunity for children between the ages 8 to 12 to enjoy various activities while learning how to manage their asthma. In addition, each camper receives, free of charge, peak flow meters, spacers, pillowcase and mattress cover, and a trip to Six Flags America. Children learn to identify their specific individual asthma triggers, recognize the signs and symptoms of an impending asthmatic episode, and the importance and proper use of medications.
Our Breathe Easy Home Improvement Project is a home visiting program for moderate to severely persistent asthmatic patients, with the highest utilization of emergency room visits and hospitalizations. The project staff conducts a walkthrough of the home to identify environmental asthma triggers. A targeted educational intervention is conducted for the child’s primary caregiver and other relatives. Integrated pest management, dust mite reduction measures and other trigger reduction tools and strategies are offered to reduce factors in the home environment that can aggravate asthma attacks in young children. While contributing to the reduction of emergency room visits and hospitalizations, staff also educate parents on the dangers of smoking and offer assistance to quit smoking.