News release: Health officials urge parents and hospitals to take action during Infant Safe Sleep Week

News Release
November 14, 2019

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MDH launches asthma training for youth community coaches

As youth shift to winter and indoor sports, the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) is encouraging community coaches in Minnesota to support their young athletes with asthma by taking a new online training course.

The Minnesota Youth Ski League (MYSL) has joined the effort with MDH and is having its coaches take the course Athletes and Asthma: The Community Coach’s Role, now live on the MDH website. 

“We encourage anyone who works with children and teenagers to learn the signs and symptoms of asthma,” said Minnesota Commissioner of Health Jan Malcolm. “We thank community organizations like the ski league for their work to ensure all Minnesota children can have fun and receive the benefits of physical activity and recreation through youth sports.”

To raise awareness about the topic, Dr. Charlene McEvoy, medical director of the Asthma Center at HealthPartners Specialty Center, will be a featured speaker at the MyXChange (Swap + Expo) at North Star Council Base Camp at Fort Snelling on Nov. 16. MDH asthma program staff will also be at the event to answer questions and share information and resources about asthma. Media are invited to attend the event.

“The Minnesota Youth Ski League welcomes the opportunity to incorporate the asthma training into our coaches’ education program,” said MyXC Executive Director Amy Cichanowski. “We consider asthma a very important topic in youth recreation and sports and are happy to educate our volunteer coaches and parents to make sure all of our skiers enjoy winter.”

The 35-minute interactive online course, developed with expertise from MDH asthma staff, provides information and resources for the community coach using animation, video and interactive scenarios. The course offers coaches information on how to help players of all ages (K-12) who have asthma play to their full potential through scenarios that mimic the real-life decisions they face during practices and competitive events.

Minnesota middle and high school students with asthma participate in club, community and school sports at about the same rate of 56% as children without asthma, according the 2019 Minnesota Student Survey. However, if the condition is not well controlled, asthma can prevent youth athletes from participating in sports and other everyday activities. While asthma is a chronic disease, it can be controlled by working with a health care provider and learning which medicines to take, when to take them, how to use asthma inhalers correctly, and how to identify what triggers cause symptoms to flare up.

Coaches who take the training course will learn:  

  • Basic anatomy-physiology of asthma
  • Myths vs. facts about asthma
  • Symptoms of asthma or an asthma attack
  • The coach’s role in helping players control their asthma
  • Rescue vs. control asthma medications (inhalers)
  • How to prevent or treat asthma symptoms
  • How to identify triggers of asthma
  • What to do during an asthma attack
  • Suggestions for working with parents and players
  • A 10-question quiz to see what they learned and a certificate of completion they can print


Media inquiries:

Scott Smith 
MDH Communications