Home Means Safety and Fun
Nobody could define our guiding principles of health, hope, and home better than the people who make our work worthwhile.
Family Lifeline Community Health Worker, De’Naja, holds the bubble wand in front of 18-month Eliana and says, “Blow, Eliana! Blow bubbles!” Shy at first, Eliana watches apprehensively. De’Naja demonstrates.
“Come on, Eliana, blow!” everyone cheers. Eliana’s mom, Davonda, sits nearby, cradling Eliana’s infant brother, Elian. Dad, Elliot, crouches down next to her. Eliana takes a deep breath and blows. The group explodes with excitement as bubbles float down the stairwell.
“She’s never done this before!” De’Naja exclaims. “This is the first time she’s done it on her own.” De’Naja refills the bubble wand and Eliana continues to blow. More and more bubbles fill the air.
Family Lifeline’s Breathe Easy asthma initiative, made possible by the Memorial Foundation for Children, offers case management services to help parents navigate the complexities of their child’s asthma. Through weekly home visits with a Certified Community Health Worker, the family identifies and addresses environmental triggers in the home. The Community Health Worker also provides asthma education and helps the family connect with asthma-related resources in the community.
In March 2022, Eliana was admitted to the hospital for two days after suffering from a severe asthma attack and ongoing breathing problems. The UCAN Community Asthma Program at VCU Health referred the family to Family Lifeline, and the family began partnering with Certified Community Health Worker, De’Naja.
“When she comes, she always has activities for Eliana,” Davonda says. “She always brings good resources.” At each visit, De’Naja checks in with the family to make sure they have the support and resources they need to effectively manage Eliana’s asthma. “The main thing is asthma education for mom and dad,” De’Naja explains. “They can pass the knowledge on to their children, even after the child graduates from programming.”
De’Naja also guides the family in developmentally appropriate activities and exercises that teach Eliana about her body. One of those activities is blowing bubbles, which demonstrates healthy breathing and strong lungs. A classic childhood activity, blowing bubbles has special significance for children living with asthma.
Eliana now blows bubbles like a pro. Since partnering with Family Lifeline, she has not had any asthma-related hospitalizations. De’Naja is in the process of coordinating Eliana’s asthma action plan, which the family will develop with their medical provider. Eliana will continue to practice her breathing exercises while her parents ensure a safe, healthy space for her to grow. A happy, loud, and energetic child, Eliana is ready to teach little brother Elian all she has learned about growing up healthy. “I thank Family Lifeline for actually being there,” Davonda says. “I hope the next family is as blessed as I am.”
Community Health Worker De'Naja demonstrates to Eliana how to blow bubbles.
Eliana blowing a bubble with assistance from Community Health Worker De'Naja
Eliana standing in a room full of bubbles
Dad, Elliot watches Eliana kisses her little brother, Elian, who is held by mom, Davonda