National and Statewide Experts Highlight Prevention/Management Strategies for

Reducing Childhood Asthma in the San Joaquin Valley

FRESNO — Calling regional attention to the epidemic of childhood asthma in the San Joaquin Valley, the Central California Children’s Institute at California State University, Fresno, will host a Childhood Asthma Leadership Summit on Friday, May 6th from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. at the LaRyan Event Center (4277 N. West Ave.) in Fresno. The summit will convene regional leaders in health, education, and social services to learn more about programs that are successfully confronting the challenges of childhood asthma and to identify specific strategies for community action.

Dr. Benjamin Ortiz, Assistant Medical Director and Co-Principal Investigator of the award-winning Harlem Children’s Zone Asthma Initiative in New York, will deliver the keynote address. He will describe the HCZ Asthma Initiative and discuss how it has improved day-to-day health and has reduced school absenteeism and emergency room visits for children in the program. “We’ve been able to reduce asthma symptoms approximately 50% within 3-4 months. It really takes a family-home based approach,” explained Dr. Ortiz.

A distinguished panel of experts will discuss best practices in the areas of asthma surveillance, detection, treatment and management, including Dr. Michael Cabana, Associate Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Michigan and researcher for the Centers for Disease Control, and Dr. Derek Shendell, Interim Executive Director of the California State Coordinating Office for the Community Action to Fight Asthma (CAFA) Initiative. Parents of children who have asthma will provide personal accounts of the impact of asthma on their lives and the lives of their children.

“Our hope is that the Childhood Asthma Leadership Summit will generate practical strategies that families, schools and communities in our region can use to reduce the impact of childhood asthma,” said Dr. Virginia Rondero Hernandez, associate director of research and evaluation for the Central California Children’s Institute and assistant professor in the Department of Social Work Education.

The eight-county San Joaquin Valley region experiences the highest prevalence of asthma in California, with nearly 157,000 children and adolescents (ages 0-17) diagnosed with the chronic disease, according to Struggling to Breathe: The Epidemic of Asthma Among Children and Adolescents in the San Joaquin Valley, a publication of the Central California Children’s Institute. The Central California Children’s Institute is dedicated to improving the well-being and quality of life for all children, youth, and their families in the Central California region.

For more information, contact: Central California Children’s Institute, College of Health and Human Services, California State University, Fresno, 1625 E. Shaw Ave,, Ste. 146, Fresno, CA 93710-8106, telephone (559) 228-2150, Fax: (559) 228-2168 or e-mail,