The Asian People’s Disability Alliance (APDA), a voluntary organisation managed and run by Asian people with disabilities commissioned the book, which is written by award winning writer Debjani Chatterjee. The book was funded by Asthma UK and provides information on managing asthma in a south Asian cultural and social context with guidance notes in English and different south Asian languages for parents.
Research funded by Asthma UK suggests that people with asthma from ethnic minority groups are more likely to be admitted to hospital for the treatment of their asthma than white patients. Led by Professor Aziz Sheikh from the University of Edinburgh, the research suggests that differences in experiences of asthma may be explained in the use and provision of health care services rather than in asthma prevalence.1
Michael Jeewa, CEO of Asian Peoples’ Disability Alliance, says the book is the first of its kind and is important for the south Asian community: “This research shows exactly how relevant ‘A Special Assembly’ is to the south Asian community. The book carries a very serious and relevant message about how crucial it is for south Asian parents to recognise the symptoms of asthma, and also how it shouldn’t stop their children from being the best they can be. This is why we have also translated its key messages from English into various Asian languages. And of course it is a story that kids can read together with their parents, and have a lot of fun doing so.”
There are 5.2 million people in the UK currently receiving treatment for asthma, including 1.1 million children. It is one of the most common long-term conditions in UK and is potentially life threatening if not managed correctly, with Asthma UK estimating around one person dying every six hours in the UK. On average there are 3 children with asthma in every classroom in the UK.2
Simon Selo, Assistant Director of Policy and Service Development, Asthma UK said: “We were delighted to fund this innovative project from our Challenge Fund. I hope it will benefit both children with asthma and their parents and help them to understand some of our most important messages in an entertaining and inspirational way.”
PE Coordinator at Barham Primary School, Chris Slattery, comments: “This new book ‘A Special Assembly’ is fabulous. As the PE teacher at Barham Primary I continuously have children not wanting to run or do vigorous physical activity because they have Asthma. With the help of educational books like this we can help raise the awareness of Asthma especially within the Asian community.”
Keeping with the theme of the book, the event was supported by Chance to Shine, a charity that is regenerating competitive cricket in state schools and is also helping distribute the book. Chance to Shine helped promote key messages of healthy living and asthma to the pupils of Barham Primary School through various cricket activities. Pupils from year 5 joined in with various cricket activities and played a cricket match with Vikram Solanki and the Chance to Shine coaches.
Vikram Solanki believes it is important to encourage children to participate in sports: “There are many sportspeople who have asthma, including footballer Paul Scholes and cricketer Ian Botham. As a sportsman, I was keen to help APDA promote ‘A Special Assembly’ and encourage children with asthma to join in with sports. The book is great and really helps drive the message that with help of their parents, children with the condition can manage their asthma so it shouldn’t stop them from participating in sporting activities especially cricket.”
‘A Special Assembly’ is available to order for free (except for postage and packaging). To order a copy, please contact Icky Hasnain at APDMCHA@aol.com or call 0208 902 2083.