Co-Op Program Targets Children with Asthma

The two Wilmington University Allied Health graduates are talking about their experience in a cooperative education program with the American Lung Association, arranged through the University’s College of Health Professions.

Amy Lovenguth calls it “the best decision I made to help further my education.” Valeri Holbert says, “It really helped me work on my communications skills and refine how I talk with individuals.”

The two Wilmington University Allied Health graduates are talking about their experience in a cooperative education program with the American Lung Association, arranged through the University’s College of Health Professions.

For both the working mothers, their co-op work focused on asthma. The most common chronic condition among children under the age of 18, asthma affects 6.3 million and is the leading cause of missed school days among students ages 5 to 17.

Lovenguth, who lives in Ridley Park, Pennsylvania, graduated summa cum laude in May and was the recipient of the Trustees’ Award for Scholarship in Health Professions. Her co-op lasted 14 weeks, during which she put in 14–21 hours a week in what she calls “a very flexible schedule” that accommodated her job as a respiratory therapist at Symbria Rehab and COPD Educator at the United Methodist Communities in Collingswood, New Jersey.

Trained as an educator for the Open Airways program, Lovenguth had a variety of duties during the co-op. She taught asthma education to children with asthma at Warner Elementary School in Wilmington, created an Asthma Education program for school nurses in Delaware, and spoke to a Wilmington HIV support group about asthma and smoking. “Also,” she says, “I made fact-sheets on allergic asthma and E-cigarettes for parents that would be handed out at summer asthma camp.” Lovenguth worked with school nurse and Site Supervisor Fran Russo-Avena, who is a graduate of WilmU’s nursing program.

Holbert, who lives in Newark, Delaware, is currently a Work Study intern with the Transitional Assistance Team helping coordinate spinal cord injury veterans at the Veterans Administration Medical Center in Wilmington. She had duties similar to Lovenguth’s during two 15-week co-ops. Besides serving as an asthma education facilitator at Warner, she represented the ALA at several asthma and lung-fassociated outreach events.

“I loved going to the outreach events,” says Holbert. “It really helped me work on my communications skills and refine how I talk with individuals.”

She completed her undergraduate work in the fall of 2017, then continued in the master’s program. She expects to complete her MSM in December.

Like Lovenguth, she found her classroom work especially meaningful. “As the Asthma Education facilitator, I recognized that the students understood the information we talked about and started to utilize the knowledge to better control their asthma,” says Holbert. “It is amazing when you truly grab someone’s interest and help them see how small changes to their lifestyle could dramatically improve their overall health.”

Both WilmU alums worked through Nicole Goldsboro, national manager, Lung Health Education. “I was program specialist when I worked with Valeri and Amy, and it was a great pleasure,” says Goldsborough. “Both of them went above and beyond to deliver the ALA’s Open Airways for Schools Program, and the students had a great time participating.”