No child wants to be on the sidelines during play time. However, it’s an unfortunate fact that children with asthma must often sit idly by while their friends run around.
Countless local kids with asthma have benefited from an annual program that offers support, education, and fun for a decade now. The 10th annual Healthy Hoops Kentucky event will take place at Central High School on Saturday, Sept. 9. The free event is open to any family with a child aged 7-14 who has asthma. You can sign up online or call (502) 585-8429.
Doctors, nurses, and other health professionals volunteer their time to provide information and education to families, and the kids love it – in part because of the presence of Louisville’s Doctor of Dunk, Darrell Griffith.
“Over a 10-year period, I’ve seen a lot of success stories,” said Griffith, who led the University of Louisville to the 1980 NCAA basketball championship. “The idea of educating parents, and brother and sisters, has been a really, really great program for the community. It gives the kids hope that they can participate, and be normal, because sometimes when you have asthma you don’t think you’re normal, especially at a young age.”
Griffith, who grew up in Louisville’s West End, spends time with Healthy Hoops attendees, going over basketball drills and helping kids have an enjoyable afternoon. And he brings out some of his basketball friends from around the region, including some current and former players and coaches.
“It’s always special when you put a smile on somebody’s face,” he said. “The kids are so excited about getting out there and having some fun, and I love to be a part of what they’re doing and mix it up with them.”
In addition of sharing court time with a basketball legend, the kids and their families get free health screenings, plus advice on nutrition and medicine from qualified health professionals.
“Kids want to participate and feel left out because they’ve got this condition,” Griffith said. “Healthy Hoops mends that concern. It teaches the parents to let the kids know they can still have fun like the rest of the kids.”
While treatment of asthma has advanced over the years, it remains a fact of life for many local children. Nationally, it affects 6.3 million children under 18, and causes 2 million emergency room visits each year.
Healthy Hoops helps families learn about proper use of medications, proper nutrition, and how to monitor activities so that kids with asthma don’t have to miss out on sports.