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Omaha Healthy Kids Alliance Nationally Recognized for Asthma Awareness Program

EPA announced the award to launch Asthma Awareness Month 2019

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EPA seal(Lenexa, Kan., May 1, 2019) - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today recognized the Omaha Healthy Kids Alliance with one of just three 2019 National Environmental Leadership Awards in Asthma Management. Each year during Asthma Awareness Month, EPA honors programs delivering excellent environmental asthma management as part of their comprehensive asthma care services to improve the lives of children and families with asthma. The 2019 award recipients are the Omaha Healthy Kids Alliance (Nebraska), Mobile Care Chicago (Illinois), and Rhode Island Department of Health.

“I am honored to award and congratulate the winners of the 2019 National Environmental Leadership Award in Asthma Management on behalf of EPA,” said EPA Assistant Administrator for Air and Radiation Bill Wehrum. “These outstanding programs are on the front lines of asthma care, improving lives, delivering real solutions, and helping the many Americans who battle asthma. We are proud to recognize leaders in the field who are providing comprehensive, in-home care and education every day, while setting the standard for asthma care and management.”

“The Omaha Healthy Kids Alliance has once again demonstrated their passion and skills that are improving children’s health in Omaha,” said EPA Region 7 Administrator Jim Gulliford. “EPA is pleased to recognize them as a national leader. Their community efforts are raising awareness while reducing asthma’s impacts on children in Omaha. When communities work together to create a healthy environment where children can grow and thrive, we all benefit.”

“Asthma prevalence is a critical issue in the lowest-income communities in Omaha,” said Omaha Healthy Kids Alliance Executive Director Tony Vargas. “Omaha Healthy Kids Alliance’s (OHKA) Asthma In-home Response (AIR) program fights to address these health disparities through home assessments, asthma management education, case management, and tailored home construction interventions for families in Omaha who have children with asthma. These interventions remodel the existing home structure to address asthma triggers. We educate families about ways to eliminate indoor asthma triggers. As a result, children are healthier, miss fewer days of school, and spend less time in emergency rooms and hospitals. We are honored to receive this award recognizing the concerted efforts of the OHKA Team.”

Asthma is a major public health issue, affecting nearly 23 million people, including 6 million children, and disproportionally affecting low-income and minority communities. The economic impact of asthma has been estimated at more than $56 billion annually from direct medical costs and indirect costs, such as missed school and work days. In partnership with other federal agencies and nonprofit organizations, EPA delivers a national, multi-faceted education and outreach initiative to increase public awareness and action to manage environmental asthma triggers as part of comprehensive asthma management. 

Through, EPA supports an online network of more than 1,100 community-based asthma programs with powerful, innovative tools and technical assistance to drive best practices, learning, and ongoing improvement of asthma care. EPA is committed to improving the lives of people with asthma by integrating sound science into effective public health programs around the country.

Omaha Healthy Kids Alliance (Omaha, Nebraska) is a children’s environmental health organization dedicated to improving children’s health through healthy homes. Their Asthma In-Home Response (AIR) Program serves children ages 18 and younger with asthma and partners with community-based organizations, hospitals, and Managed Care Organizations to deliver free home visits, asthma education, environmental assessments, supplies and remediation. They have a significant referral network, referring families to other organizations for emergency, legal and employment services, as well as food pantry access and more. Participants have shown a significant decrease in symptom days, missed school days, emergency department visits, and hospitalizations – and for every $1 invested, Omaha Healthy Kids Alliance realized a return on investment of $1.83.

A national webinar with award winners will be held on May 23 as part of Asthma Awareness Month, and more information about it will be available on EPA's website.

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