By DEENA KINKADE ADAMS
& GREG BUCCOLA
Your Voice Contributors
Air quality in our metro area, on both sides of the Ohio, deserves immediate attention. Clean air is key to quality of life in any community, and advances in lung health require support through funding research, education and advocacy. As two members of the community seeking to promote clean air and lung health, opportunity recently knocked and we accepted the challenge!
We both participated in the Leadership Louisville Center’s Focus Louisville program, with goals to gain understanding, make connections and seek community engagement. The experience was especially valuable as we sought to fulfill promises to serve the community.
Greg Buccula is a recent transplant from Los Angeles. I, Deena Kinkade, am a lifelong resident of the metro area. Focus Louisville provided an overview of our community from its origins to current status as America’s “Most Livable” large city, where “six degrees of separation” is a foreign term because there are usually less than two degrees that separate us all!
Although Greg and I view Louisville from different perspectives, we gained an understanding of both the city’s achievements and challenges that must be addressed to move our community forward. Air quality and lung health should be a high priority!
During our class visit to city hall, Ted Smith, the city’s economic growth and innovation director, gave an overview of city services. Ted’s mention of an upcoming 2012 air quality initiative captured our attention. The pilot program would place “smart” emergency inhalers in the hands of 500 Louisville residents, tracking the times and locations of their asthma attacks. The Asthmapolis/Louisville Project was the connection Greg and I discovered as our call to action!
According to information on the American Lung Association’s website, ozone and particle pollution, the most widespread air pollutants, are life-threatening to infants and can alter the lungs of children. In addition, particulates in the air are associated with adult-onset asthma and COPD.
Take a deep breath. As you exhale, imagine a cloth placed over your mouth as you fight to expel air from your lungs. This is the norm for children and adults living with asthma and lung dysfunction. More than 100,000 residents of the Louisville metro area are affected by asthma, as reported by an article in the Courier Journal this month. Clean air and lung health should be a priority for everyone. The phrase “If you can’t breathe, nothing else matters” speaks volumes.
With over 25 like-minded individuals, Greg and I are now part of “A Breath of Fresh Air,” a group active in raising awareness and funds to support clean air and healthy lungs. In addition to supporting the Asthmapolis/Louisville Project, this group hosts an annual third-party October gala for American Lung Association, has a team in the American Lung Association’s Fight for Air Walk, participates in the Festival of Faiths, and is represented in the city’s air-quality study with appointments to their advisory board.
Participation in Focus Louisville provided a unique opportunity to combine our skills and energies to effect positive change. “Paying it forward” may be an overused phrase, but it’s what is needed to ensure our population has the air quality required for a healthy breath! Consider this an invitation to become part of the solution.
Deena Kinkade Adams is a development director for Adams/Kinkade and co-director of “A Breath of Fresh Air.” She co-chairs the annual American Lung Association October gala and serves on the Asthmapolis/Louisville Project Advisory Board. In March Deena was recipient of Volunteer of the Year for The American Lung Association in Kentucky. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Greg Buccola is a practicing structural engineer at Luckett & Farley and is on the advisory board for “A Breath of Fresh Air.” He recently relocated to Louisville from Southern California where he taught undergraduate civil engineering coursework at a state university. Outside of his work Greg enjoys donating his time to community organizations: Big Brothers Big Sisters, ACE Mentor, USGBC, and “A Breath of Fresh Air.” Greg is also a cancer survivor.