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Can you guess what this is?

In New Zealand

  • 550,000 school days lost every year
  • affects 600,000 New Zealanders
  • costs an estimated $800,000,000
  • in 2011, responsible for 8,000 hospital admissions


  • affects 235 million people
  • causes an estimated 250,000 deaths annually

It's asthma.

Balloon Day (24 May) is the Asthma Foundation’s annual flagship event. It provides an opportunity to not only raise awareness of the challenges associated with having asthma in New Zealand, but also raise much needed funds so we can keep our kids out of hospital.

Why balloons?

We use balloons as 1 in 4 children struggle to blow up a balloon – asthma won’t let them. Why is this? Asthma causes the breathing tubes to swell. It’s easy for an asthmatic to breathe in, however, when they try to breathe out, to perhaps blow up a balloon, the lungs are not strong enough to push air through the swollen breathing tubes.

“People who are not asthmatic let their breath go and the air comes out easily; however, asthmatics need to make it an active process to push the air out. You have to work really, really hard to get that air out again,” said Teresa Demetriou, national education services manager at the Foundation.

Can you imagine seeing your child unable to breathe? We hear stories about visits to the hospital with young children which can be especially frightening and often end in tears.

While the balloons convey a serious message, they are also a positive symbol. Every year the societies and trusts hold a huge range of educational and entertaining activities in their local regions. Previously these have included hospital visits, free resources, fun days for kids, free breakfasts and public demonstrations. Keep a look out on the Asthma Foundation website or facebook page to see what’s happening in your community.

What you can do to help
The Asthma Foundation receives no government funding. Asthma Awareness Week and Balloon Day are our major fundraising events for the year. For us to continue our work in education, research and advocacy, we need your support.

To donate $3 text PUFF to 469, call 0900 4 ASTHMA (0900 4 278 462) to make an automatic $20 donation or visit the Asthma Foundation website to make a donation.

Asthma facts and figures
At least one person dies every week from asthma

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