After one of their classmates died from an asthma attack, students from a Limerick secondary school were inspired to raise awareness about the condition.
The day he died, James Long, 13, from Kilmallock had played a hurling match, scoring the winning goal for his U14 team.
It is understood he took ill shortly after the match and had a severe asthma attack during the night. He died on the way to hospital.
At the time, the principal of Coláiste Iósaef, where James had just finished first year, paid tribute to the popular student.
“He was a good student,” said Sean Twomey. “His personality is what would have made him stand out from everybody else. You couldn’t miss him around the place, with his distinctive red hair and his roguish charm.”
Now in transition year, James’ Coláiste Iósaef classmates continue to pay tribute to their friend with a project on the dangers of asthma, urging others to think about the condition and for sufferers to have an asthma attack plan.
Their teacher, Eddie O’Carroll, said they started the project in September and entered it in the Young Social Innovators competition.
“The YSI is a great initiative. Around 4,000 teenagers from all around the country take part every year,” said Mr O’Carroll. “This year my class decided to do something on asthma.
“For a lot of them, it was their first experience of someone their own age dying and it had a huge effect on them.”
During the course of the project, the teenagers discovered Ireland has the highest prevalence of asthma in western Europe, and the fourth-highest in the world.
They also learned that while the large majority of asthma deaths are preventable, every week someone in Ireland dies from the condition and every 26 minutes someone presents at an accident and emergency ward with an asthma-related complaint.
The Coláiste Iósaef students joined the Asthma Society of Ireland in calling for sufferers to implement an asthma action plan, and they appeared in a recent ASI video campaign.
“Studies have shown that having an asthma action plan reduces hospital admissions and emergency room visits,” said ASI’s chief executive, Sharon Cosgrove.
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