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Below we share the stories of three "promotoras de salud" or community health workers that have participated in our Asthma Management Academy (AsMA). Each of them shares her own story about being a promotora and helping families control asthma. Click on the image to watch the video. All videos contain closed captioning in English and Spanish.

Gaby screen shot

Gaby's Story

"We all have a calling in life, and being a promotora is my calling." 

Promotora de salud Gabriela "Gaby" Gonzalez has worked in the healthcare profession for nearly two decades.

A 1999 graduate of Esperanza Community Housing Corporation's 'Promotores de Salud Training' program, she helps residents of her native South Los Angeles community to better manage their asthma and housing issues.

Serving her community as a promotora is Gaby's passion. "I'm very proud of the work I do in the community I grew up in," says Gaby.

As a promotora, Gaby understands that every family experiences unique challenges related to home and health.

"Each household is different. Each asthmatic is different," she says. "Once we start the home visit, asking questions, getting to know the families better, we build that trust and relationship with the family."

Taking classes through the California Department of Public Health's Asthma Management Academy (AsMA) has allowed Gaby to sharpen her abilities as a promotora. "It's crucial that promotoras build their skills, and the AsMA is helping us accomplish that goal," says Gaby. "I feel the AsMA is validating our experience of working so many years in the community educating and empowering families around asthma and what they can do to take control of and manage their asthma."

Gaby says, "The one-on-one education we have with the families is so important. We talk about the triggers for asthma and what they can do to reduce and eliminate them, but we also talk about myths and how it's best to use prescribed medication to control asthma."

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Conselo's Story

"A healthy child deserves everything, but a sick child deserves much more."

This saying holds a special meaning for South Central Los Angeles-based promotora de salud Consuelo Pernia, who has worked in her community for 15 years helping families, particularly children, living with asthma.

Consuelo studied medicine in her native Cuba nearly 40 years ago, where she worked as a pediatrician. Her medical training helps her in her role as a promotora and senior asthma specialist with Esperanza Community Housing Corporation's Healthy Breathing program.

"The education I received in my country, where the physicians are trained to work with and for the community, has made my job easier," says Consuelo.

"As a promotora, I consider it a privilege that people open their homes to us to practice our job there."

Consuelo encourages families to have a better quality of life by educating and advising them about asthma. "I teach them with love, patience, and respect, and listen to their concerns and doubts about the disease," she says. "I practice great empathy with the people I have seen."

When working with her young patients and their families, Consuelo sometimes experiences challenges in helping them control their asthma. "There is a fear of taking medications, especially controllers, as they are steroids," says Consuelo. "There is the belief that asthma medications are habit forming, and this prevents people from using the medicine as the physician prescribes, along with not taking them to achieve their maximum efficacy."

Consuelo also works with the California Department of Public Health's Asthma Management Academy (AsMA) as a CHW Trainer.

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Onyx's Story    

"With education, I've learned ... how to control asthma."

Community Health Workers (CHWs) at Comite Civico del Valle (CCV) know that asthma is a common health problem in Imperial County, a Southern California area bordering Mexico.

Founded in 1987, CCV is an environmental justice, community-based organization committed to improving lives of disadvantaged communities. Its CHWs are aware that asthma control is influenced by conditions in and outside of the home that trigger asthma -  including air quality and coming into contact with pollutants.

Onyx describes how learning about her own asthma taught her to teach others about air pollution and asthma. She encourages families to check the local air pollution level, at national sites like www.airnow.gov and the local site https://ivan-imperial.org/air, before deciding whether to do outside activities.

CCV has partnered with the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) to launch the Asthma Management Academy (AsMA). The objective of AsMA is to reduce the burden of asthma in California's most highly impacted communities.

AsMA provides free trainings to community health workers and others who visit clients with asthma in the home.

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