Asthma is the leading cause of Iowa kids missing school, according to the executive director of the American Lung Association in Iowa. Micki Sandquist says a free, statewide program is planned for next month called “Active with Asthma,” that’s designed to teach children and their families how to better manage the disease.

“We hope to have children from all across the state,” Sandquist says. “This is a pilot program we’re trying this year and we hope next year to have a new location in a different part of Iowa. We’re starting here in Des Moines but everyone is welcome from across the state.” The event targets kids between the ages of six and 14. It will be held Friday, August 13th, at Principal Park.

Sandquist says the program will offer kids the chance to experience outdoor fun in a medically-supervised environment while learning to understand and manage their asthma. “Throughout the day, the children are going to be active, playing games and learning how to do active activities and still have their asthma under control,” Sandquist says. “They’re going to learn about good eating habits, good nutritional habits and just being active and playing and knowing they can play while they have asthma.”

Asthma is the number-one chronic disease among children and she says more than 65,000 Iowa children have been diagnosed with it. “We hope that through teaching children how to control their asthma and prepare and take their proper medication prior to an attack, that that will help them manage their asthma so they are able to attend school and not miss so many school days,” Sandquist says. “That also relates to parents having to miss work. When their children have to stay home, the parents have to stay home.”

She says parents and caregivers will be able to take part in an afternoon educational event before joining their children in a special closing ceremony. Register online for the free Active with Asthma program at “” or call 800-LUNG-USA.