Allercy and Asthma Health


Winter 2008

Drumming for Asthma Awareness

Green Means “Go!” at This Asthma Camp

9 Important Things You Should Know About the New Asthma Guidelines

Understanding Mild Asthma

Donated Nebulizers Make School Day Easier for Kids with Asthma

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The Official Publication of AAN - MA

Drumming for Asthma Awareness

Kojo Bey got the children’s attention with the drumming, then told about his childhood experience with asthma, while Gretchen May-Fendo looked on.

Getting children to settle down to learn anything is a big challenge — just ask any teacher. Respiratory Therapist Gretchen May-Fendo, MDiv, RRT, AE-C, discovered the key to success recently when she was asked to give a presentation on lung health and asthma to children participating in a city-operated summer program: Let them bang on drums!

May-Fendo was invited to participate in the Drums for Life program by the Connecticut Chapter of the American Lung Association, where she serves as an Asthma 101 instructor. Kojo Bey, executive director of Sound of Afrika and a drummer who has asthma, spearheaded the program to help inner city youth learn about lung health. He combines percussion instruments with hands-on activities to introduce presentations on a variety of lung health topics. This program was called “Drumming for Asthma Awareness” and was designed to teach the children about asthma.

“Part of the concept was to use the drums to get them to listen,” says May-Fendo, who gave two sessions along with Maria Bonilla-Guzman, the department data coordinator at Bridgeport Hospital in Bridgeport, where they both work. “Kojo told them that knowledge is power, that they should always listen when someone was giving them information. He then talked about his experience with asthma as a child.”

Maria Bonilla-Guzman helped teach the children how the lungs work.

The kids loved the drumming. “They were enthralled with the activity, with smiles from ear to ear,” says May-Fendo. “But some took it very seriously — a task to be mastered. It was really beautiful to watch them.”

While most people wouldn’t think of drumming in the same breath as asthma education, May-Fendo says the two activities proved to be a winning combination — especially in an inner city community where many children could relate to African drumming as a part of their heritage. “The drumming gets their attention, and then we have the opportunity to impart good information to them,” says the respiratory therapist. “It was a great collaboration.”


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