News & Events

In the 80s, Superman Also Fought Asthma

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The Man of Steel takes on asthma awareness in this vintage PSA video from the American Lung Association, here.

A personal story about this video from our Outreach Director:

If you're like me, this coming weekend is going to be a tough one. Temperatures in the Lehigh Valley and Berks regions look to be sky-high, something that will make the air quality conditions (already forecast at Unsafe for Sensitive Groups levels) feel even worse.

I was diagnosed with asthma as a child. My family lived in western Berks County and I still remember the late-night trip to the hospital in Allentown during my first asthma attack. Before I experienced the condition first-hand, everything I knew about asthma came from a 30-second public service announcement featuring Superman. Kids with asthma were supposed to ask their parents to call the American Lung Association for a pack of free information, or, as it appeared to me at the time, free Superman stuff. To be honest, I felt left out and thought asthma must be awesome if it got the Man of Steel to show up at your pick-up baseball games. I didn't feel that way the night of my first attack, or when we had to move from Maxatawny because the allergens in the fields by our house aggravated my condition to unbearable levels. I wasn't glad for my asthma when I had to use inhalers and smoke machines, or when I couldn't run as long or as fast as my friends in gym class. I'm not glad for it now on Air Quality Action Days like those expected today and tomorrow in the Lehigh Valley and Berks County regions.

Yesterday, those of you already on our e-newsletter list received an email from me via the Air Quality Partnership of Lehigh Valley - Berks. This was as a personal appeal for help connecting around Air Quality issues.

Today I wrote to many more people with a very specific reason and with a painstaking methodology. I combed through 2000 of my Google contacts, twice, and picked those that I knew personally as friends, by reputation or position as stakeholders and advocates, or by association with organizations that care about these kinds of issues. I chose elementary school friends, leaders in banks, educators, non-profit activists, PR people, news people, faith-community leaders, and representatives of groups who have expressed interest in being great corporate citizens in our region. I included health care professionals, government employees at state and local levels, chambers of commerce and entertainment insiders. I did this because I want to widen our net and strengthen our connections. I want more people to know what we're doing and why we're doing it. And I want you to sign up for our monthly e-newsletters. I want you to follow us on Twitter. Yes, I want to you like us on Facebook

Here's why.

I don't have to tell you that times are tough. Sponsorship money and grant funds are increasingly hard to come by for obvious financial reasons. Even so, our work continues. Thankfully, our organization is light and relatively nimble. Much of the educational and promotional work we do can be done virtually, and initiatives like our online interactive learning experience for elementary school students have been very successful and are maintained at very low costs. Earlier this year, we leveraged fantastic materials composed by the EPA in the creation of an Air Quality Awareness Tool Kit for secondary teachers complete with lesson plans. Teachers across our three-country region are taking advantage of these free professional educational resources. We're also reaching out to adults with new endeavors like the Share The Ride Challenge, a program whose time has come precisely because of much it costs commute in this economy. Of course, I'm always proud to reach out with sponsorship requests for any and all of these very worthy programs, but more important than money right now is something you can give us for free: social capital. We all know the power of social networks,(continue reading at the Breathe Easy Blog).