Kilmallock student’s death inspires asthma campaign

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Coláiste Iósaef TY students Patrick Joy, Moira O Dea, Niamh Tahann and Ben Upton.
Coláiste Iósaef TY students Patrick Joy, Moira O Dea, Niamh
Tahann and Ben Upton.

by Kathy Masterson

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A GROUP of Transition Year students from Coláiste Iósaef in Kilmallock were prompted to create an awareness campaign about how to help someone having an asthma attack following the death of one of their classmates.

James Long (13) from Kilmallock died on the way to hospital after suffering a severe asthma attack nearly three years ago.

The first year student had only hours before scored the winning goal at an U14 hurling match.

Now, his former classmates are hoping to raise awareness of the condition with their Young Social Innovators (YSI) campaign about the five steps people can take to help an asthma sufferer in an emergency.

Their teacher, Eddie O’Carroll, told the Limerick Post: “YSI is a scheme for Transition Year students were they take an issue that’s close to their hearts and build a school campaign around it.

“This year the theme they chose was asthma. For my class this is a particularly poignant subject because three years ago, one of their classmates, James Long died after suffering an asthma attack.”

“It was the first time they came into contact with the death of one of their own peers. Some of them may have lost a grandparent, but this was a lad they sat beside in class, or played hurling with, so his death did have a big effect on all of them.”

Earlier this month, the group featured in an Asthma Society of Ireland information video, and presented their project at the national YSI annual showcase in Dublin.

Mr O’Carroll, whose son is also an asthma sufferer, said the class learned a number of startling statistics about the condition, including that Ireland has the highest prevalence of asthma in western Europe, and the fourth highest in the world.

“There is one asthma-related death in Ireland every week, and up to 90 per cent of those are preventable. The project was about raising awareness of the five simple steps that anyone can take to make sure that someone who is suffering an asthma attack is comfortable until they get medical help”, he said.

For more information, go to www.asthma.ie