Sunset Park

Kids use art to raise awareness of asthma

Posters to be included in special calendar

July 2, 2015 By Paula Katinas Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Aaron Lin, Sofia Analco, and Leo Dang (left to right) were all rewarded for their creative posters. Photo courtesy HealthPlus Amerigroup

A dozen New York City area students, including four from Brooklyn, were winners of a poster contest sponsored by HealthPlus Amerigroup to raise awareness of asthma. The kids will have the honor of seeing the posters they created used in a special calendar.

The contest was part of HealthPlus Amerigroup’s Keeping Kids in School Asthma Program, a project that seeks to use innovative approaches to promote asthma awareness to improve the quality of life for children living with asthma.

Under the program, children learn that asthma is a chronic condition, but are taught how to manage the disease and how to lead active, healthy lives, officials said. The students, who come from four different boroughs and Nassau, will have their artwork included in a calendar put out by HealthPlus Amerigruop, which will be distributed in schools, physician’s offices and community service centers around the city.

“Asthma affects more than 400,000 children in New York City, and it is the leading cause of missed school days and hospital stays for children,” said Dr. Sajidah Husain, chief medical officer of HealthPlus Amerigroup. “This program creates awareness and teaches parents, students and educators how to better manage this disease, which is crucial in Brooklyn where asthma rates are amongst the highest in the city.”

All 12 children were honored at a ceremony in June at the Department of Education. A special guest, Olympic gold medal hurdler Derrick Adkins, made a surprise appearance at the award ceremony and talked to the kids about having a winning attitude and the importance of academic success, good nutrition and fitness.

The 12 winners will also receive free calendars and tickets to a New York City FC soccer match this month.

More than 100 posters were entered in the contest.

The winning poster, created by a sixth-grader from Washington Rose Elementary School in Nassau County, captured the importance of avoiding asthma triggers such as cigarette smoke and dust; the importance of taking an inhaler to control asthma; and playing sports to stay active and healthy. 

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Sofia Analco, a student at P.S. 1 in Sunset Park, took second place honors for her poster. Sofia told the contest sponsor she wants to be a doctor when she grows up.

Three youngsters from Brooklyn received honorable mention, including Leo Dang (P.S. 169), Angela Luo (P.S. 105) and Aaron Lin (P.S. 169).

“The Keeping Kids in School Asthma Program exemplifies the type of work we feel is most impactful — especially in communities like Brooklyn,” said Jack Stephenson, plan president, HealthPlus Amerigroup. “Sofia, Leo, Aaron and Angela are all fantastic kids who represent Brooklyn and the program in a really positive way, and we look forward to seeing their artwork featured in our 2016 calendar.”

The Keeping Kids in School Asthma Program consists of a school-based interactive classroom education for students in grades three to six, parent asthma workshops and the poster contest. Health educators from HealthPlus Amerigroup conduct sessions at different places and times throughout the week. The sessions are offered in various languages.

This year more than 3,000 kids took part in the Keeping Kids in School Asthma Program classroom sessions.

HealthPlus Amerigroup offers health care coverage through Medicaid, expanded Medicaid, Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) and Managed Long-Term Care (MLTC) programs in New York State. It currently serves 465,000 in the state. 

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