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A Chance for WI Kids With Asthma to Get Away

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 By Glen GardnerContact
April 30, 2009

Wisconsin Dells, WI - Parents of children with asthma are being invited to enroll their children in a week-long summer camp designed specifically for them. For many of the children who attend Camp WIKIDAS (WIsconsin's Only Camp for KIDs With ASthma), it's their first experience away from home and away from the care and support of their parents and family doctor. The camp, sponsored by the American Lung Association in Wisconsin, offers swimming, rope and rock climbing, boating, hiking and other challenging activities. It also teaches them to manage their asthma in daily life.

Dr. Brent Kooistra, the camp's medical director, says the experience can make a huge difference in a child's life.

"The nice thing about being with peers and with children who have a similar condition is that they don't stand out and they don't feel different at this camp."

Camp takes place at Camp Wawbeek, a 400-acre site one mile northeast of the Wisconsin Dells, where Dr. Kooistra says campers have a lot of fun and a lot to learn.

"We teach them breathing and relaxing exercises because, with asthma, there's a hyperventilation component and anxiety that sometimes kicks in."

A dedicated staff of doctors, nurses, pharmacists and others donate their time to care for the campers, so parents can rest easy, adds Dr. Kooistra.

"They leave their family, they leave their clinics and their hospitals for anywhere from three to six days to spend at camp. The often give up their vacation days."

Parents often comment that Camp WIKIDAS is the only place they feel comfortable leaving their children overnight. This year's camp runs June 21 through the 26, with registration closing on May 29. Children must be on daily asthma medication to qualify. Dr. Kooistra says a limited number of "camperships," or camper scholarships, are available to those in significant need of financial assistance.

For information or to register, visit the American Lung Association in Wisconsin Web site at www.lungwi.org.

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