A young girl and young boy standing with the word "EMPOWER" between them.
Breathe Better Network Spotlight

National Environmental Education Foundation: Empowering Youth with Asthma


The National Environmental Education Foundation (NEEF) offers a wide range of educational resources on environmental management of pediatric asthma. Their EMPOWER initiative, developed through a partnership with Hip Hop Public Health (HHPH), is a collection of original songs and animated videos to encourage young people to proactively take control of their asthma. Learn More Breathe Better® connected with AshaLetia Henderson, program coordinator for health at NEEF, to learn more.  

NEEF is all about environmental learning. How do environmental education and asthma education intersect?  

Environmental education and asthma education both emphasize the vital link between environmental factors and respiratory health, particularly the impact of air quality on lung health. Poor air quality, such as with air pollutants and high pollen levels, can make asthma symptoms worse. Environmental education promotes connecting with nature to foster a deeper relationship between people and the planet, while asthma education provides essential guidance for effective engagement among healthcare providers and their patients. By recognizing this intersection, individuals living with asthma gain the ability to make informed choices regarding environmental conservation and respiratory health. Comprehensive approaches to nurturing healthy environments also support those with asthma.

The EMPOWER video series is a unique multimedia collection of songs and animated videos. What led to the creation of EMPOWER? Why was hip hop a good fit? 

The EMPOWER video series was created through a collaborative effort between HHPH and NEEF with the goal of empowering young individuals with asthma to take control of their asthma management journey, using evidence-based self-management skills. The choice of hip hop as a medium was based on its widespread appeal and effectiveness in connecting with youth, leveraging music to promote empowerment and resilience. The series centers on essential aspects of living with and managing asthma, encapsulated in the EMPOWER acronym.

Each letter in EMPOWER represents a different component of asthma management: Environment, Medication, Plan, Open communication, Well-being, Extinguish, and Resilience. What are some key messages about managing asthma that you hope young people will take away from these videos?  

Dealing with asthma can feel overwhelming, but understanding the following key messages can make a difference in managing your asthma effectively:  

  • Learn and know about the potential asthma triggers around you.  
  • Take your asthma medications as prescribed.  
  • Create an asthma action plan to track, manage, and reduce your asthma symptoms.  Talk with your healthcare team, family, and friends for support.  
  • Be sure to take care of your overall health, physically and mentally.  
  • Stay away from cigarettes and e-cigarettes like vapes, to avoid worsening your asthma symptoms.
  • Lastly, develop your strength to face your asthma challenges and take charge of your health.