Vodafone Warriors hooker Issac Luke was moved by personal experiences to become a celebrity ambassador for the Asthma and Respiratory Foundation New Zealand.
“Respiratory illness is something that is very close to me and my family. It can be very scary hearing your loved ones, or your teammates struggle with breathing,” he said.
“As an ambassador, I want to raise awareness of asthma and respiratory conditions to all New Zealanders. There is amazing support available to help families deal with all kinds of respiratory problems.”
The non-profit organisation’s prime focus is heightening awareness of all respiratory conditions including asthma, bronchiectasis, childhood bronchiolitis, childhood pneumonia, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), lung cancer and obstructive sleep apnoea.
Asthma and respiratory diseases are two of the leading causes of sickness and death in New Zealand with one in six people having a respiratory disease and one in seven suffering from asthma.
Studies have shown that viral infections are likely to be the main cause in the spike of asthma hospitalisations.
The Asthma and Respiratory Foundation New Zealand warns that asthma attacks are common for children when going back to school, especially following the long summer holiday. Over the holidays children are usually exposed to allergens and change in emotions such as stress and anxiety.
Having children of his own, Luke is motivated to spread awareness on the severity of asthma and respiratory diseases.
“My father has suffered from asthma for most of his life, and for me growing up and hearing the nasty coughing and the struggle to breathe is something that will always haunt me,” he said.
“I now have four kids and two of them have suffered various forms of asthma over the years.”
Parents are urged to keep a close eye on symptoms as well as ensuring they take their prescribed medicines or inhalers to school. It is also important to try to educate your children so they can do their best to avoid triggers.
For more information on how to manage or prevent respiratory conditions visit the website asthmafoundation.org.nz