Last updated on 17/02/2022


After tragically losing her own brother to asthma as a child, Sarah Young has made it her mission to advocate for her own children when it comes to the warning signs of an asthma attack, particularly at back to school time. 

With almost 500,000 children living with asthma now back in classrooms around Australia, it is a time of year that coincides with a spike in asthma attacks and hospital admissions in young children.

Due to her tragic experience with asthma, Sarah recognised her now eight-year-old son Matthew was experiencing symptoms from a young age. 

“My son Matthew was diagnosed at the young age of three,” said Sarah.

“His symptoms were often palmed off for croup however growing up with my brother’s condition I knew it wasn’t.” 

After multiple hospital admissions within a short 12-month period, Sarah was able to get an appointment with a specialist at the Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne. 

“He put Matthew on the right asthma plan with preventor and reliever and I’m happy to report he has had no hospital admissions since.” 

While Sarah knows all too well the importance of treating asthma seriously, she has found that people can be dismissive of asthma in general, including in the classroom. 

“One thing I have noticed over time since when my brother was growing up and now is the lack of seriousness people take towards asthma, especially that it can cause death if not managed correctly,” she said. 

Sarah has put a strong focus on staying in control of her son’s asthma and ensuring she’s prepared for a safe return to school. 

“I’m a big advocate for my son as I unfortunately am too aware of the consequences of mismanaged asthma.” 

Whilst back to school can be a scary time for parents, the best way to be prepared is to have an up-to-date written Asthma Action Plan, School Care Plan (if your school requires), spacer and reliever puffer for your child. 

You can download all of these resources and more here. 

This year, Asthma Australia has launched our new Asthma Adventure Game for kids, which lets your child set their own personal asthma goal for school and work towards achieving it while having fun along the way! 

Matthew has set an asthma goal to help raise awareness of asthma in the classroom so that teachers and classmates know what to do if he has an asthma attack at school.

“Since Matthew started school I’ve had multiple issues with teachers either not understanding the disease itself or not taking it seriously. This becomes completely frustrating that I have to go over the same thing over and over again,” explained Sarah. 

One of Asthma Australia’s focus areas is to ensure school staff are trained in Asthma First Aid and have up to date policies in place to respond to students like Matthew.   

Schools can complete the Schools Health Check and when they do, they will receive a bundle of Asthma First Aid posters to display in their office or sports halls. Let your school know they can get involved here.

Asthma Australia would like to thank Sarah for sharing her story. Thank you for being a voice for people with asthma. 

Do you have a story to tell? Become an Asthma Champion.