Breathe Easy Camden

Camden, NJ, United States

Asthma is a chronic respiratory disease that affects 1 out of every 12 Americans and is the leading cause of ER visits, hospitalizations, and missed days of school. While asthma mortality is low, it is the recurrent—but largely preventable—sickness, which is responsible for the heaviest social and financial costs. In 2007 alone, asthma treatment and missed days of school and work (12.8 and 10.1 million days lost per year, respectively) cost the United States over $56 billion! Since 1980, asthma prevalence has more than doubled and rates are continuing to climb, especially among low-income and minority children (consider that 17.4% of African American, 15.9% of Hispanic, and just 7.8% of Caucasian children, comparatively, suffer from asthma). Widespread substandard living conditions and limited access to preventative health care are fueling this inequitable health burden.

For children that suffer from asthma in New Jersey, just 25% report that their asthma is well-controlled; meaning that they have experienced fewer than 8 symptomatic days in the last month and no limitations on their physical activity in the last year. Nearly 40% of children suffering from asthma have missed 4 or more days of school due to their symptoms. Poverty is a significant determinant of asthma sickness in the state. Nearly 18% of children living in households making less than $35,000 suffer from asthma, versus just 7.7% of those living in households making $75,000 or more!

In Camden, 18% of residents suffer from asthma and the city reports some of the highest asthma hospitalization rates in the state. Nearly 40% of all residents live in poverty, including 52% of children. Knowledge of asthma maintenance strategies is limited and strongly connected to poverty. Just 40% of residents living on household incomes of less than $35,000 reported having worked with a doctor to develop an asthma management plan. This leaves 60% of those most vulnerable to asthma sickness without the necessary tools to successfully maintain their own health. Further adding to the risk of poorly maintained asthma, the living conditions within the city are exceptionally poor. A large percentage of the homes are in disrepair, which creates prime conditions for the collection of asthma triggers and results in a costly cycle of severe asthma sickness among young children living in poverty.

Breathe Easy Camden is a family-focused, collaborative asthma prevention project developed by ARCHIVE Global and the Camden Area Health Education Center. Breathe Easy focuses on empowering low-income, urban families with young children suffering from severe asthma with the tools and resources that are essential to creating and maintaining healthy, trigger-free living environments. This project responds to a critical gap in access to preventive asthma care for high-risk families and seeks to spark the development of a broader system of family-focused asthma prevention in Camden.

During the 4 month long pilot project, community health workers (CHW) will work one-on-one with 10 families and train over 100 community members on strategies to improve asthma management at the home level. As part of the prevention-focused approach, CHW will conduct environmental home assessments alongside family members to identify asthma triggers and co-develop personalized solutions to prevent asthma sickness. Participating families will be further supported in developing a trigger-free living environment through the delivery of packages of asthma-friendly cleaning products and bedding. Additionally, to improve knowledge of and access to non-emergency medical care, participants will be connected to local asthma and allergy care providers who can continue to support residents in achieving positive health outcomes.


• Support 10 families in developing trigger-free living environments
• Increase trigger reduction practices in the home by 80%
• Reduce emergency visits, hospitalizations, missed days of school and work, and symptomatic days due to asthma by 70%
• Build awareness among over 100 community members about simple trigger reduction strategies and expand access to preventative care through community trainings


• 10 families are directly supported in the creation of asthma friendly living environments and connected to improved asthma care services through a dedicated network of community health workers
• Camden residents are actively engaged in high impact practices to reduce exposure to triggers in the home environment
• Children will miss fewer days of school, experience fewer symptomatic days, and report fewer emergency visits due to asthma symptoms
• Information about the importance of the indoor environment in maintaining health is accessible to the most vulnerable Camden residents

archiveglobalCamden | New Jersey