After receiving feedback on our initial service proposition, we decided to re-evaluate the current space of pairing asthma self-management with physical activity. The initial proposal of an exercise program for children with asthma was too boxed out in terms of incorporating the service into children’s daily routines. To take a closer look at the day-to-day activities of children, we did more primary research on what goes on at school and focusing gym class. This gave us insight on how to better integrate a service for asthma self-management.

Interviews with The Falk School

We interviewed two people from The Falk School: Jill, the Director of Admissions and Community Partnerships, and Laura, the PE teacher. Some of the key insights from these interviews include:

  • If exercise is a trigger for a particular child, they will take preventative puffs from their inhaler around 20 minutes before going to gym class.
  • Some parents are resistant to labeling their kids with having asthma. However, there seems to be positive support among the kids at school for those with asthma.
  • Imagination/role playing games, such as tag games or rescue games, are popular among the kids during PE.
  • Kids with asthma don’t hold back when participating in physical activity- they just want to play.
  • The Falk School uses a touch-identification system in the cafeteria to give lunch supervisors information on food allergies. Kids will scan their fingerprints when getting food and supervisors check to make sure there are no trigger foods on their trays.
  • Laura likes to design new games for the kids to play in PE. She is open to co-designing a role playing/tag game with us.

Mapping Gym Class

To get a more concrete idea of what children experience going from classroom to gym class, and back to classroom, we mapped out the actions of the kids, the classroom teacher, and the gym teacher in that path. We identified moments and environments in that path where the opportunities for potential triggers/asthma attacks and taking preventative puffs from the inhaler can occur. This led to some brainstorming on potential opportunities for kids to better prepare for triggers and attacks and opportunities for information exchange between classroom teachers, gym teachers, and parents.

Digitized version of class-gym-class map
Brainstorming on role playing games and how kids can support their peers.

Scenarios and Identifying the Service Ecosystem

We discussed ideas centered around the concept of kids role-playing as “healers” both in their classrooms and in PE. With support from both secondary research and interviews with Laura, we focused on the idea that kids enjoy role-playing and exercising the responsibility that comes with their roles. Classroom teachers and gym teachers would have roles in the backstage for facilitating the “healers” and providing information exchange for parents. One concept is that the parents would receive a health report with data from medical or environmental activity that occurs.

In the Classroom

In the context of the classroom, “healers” would be chosen for a period of time, perhaps for one week. They are given the “healer” badge as an indication of their responsibilities. The “healers” would undergo a brief training to understand their responsibilities- paying attention to their peers/potential triggers, notifying the teacher if anyone needs to go to the nurse. Their responsibilities would not be limited to asthma-related incidents. “Healers” would be responsible for keeping track of their actions taken, if any. They would record any incidents using stickers or coloring in shapes in a record book. The recording can also be done digitally on a tablet. Because this data may not be completely accurate, the purpose of this record book would only be for helping “healers” exercise their responsibilities. After their time as “healers” is over, they would help pass on the responsibilities to the new pair of “healers”. As a result, the value of this concept is that kids would become more aware of triggers and empathize with asthma and various other medical issues. This would develop into better collective understanding of managing asthma, and deeper understanding for the kids with asthma. Ideally, this would promote empathy and supportive culture in the classroom.

In Gym Class

In the context of gym class, “healers” would have the responsibility of paying attention to their peers and notifying the gym teacher if anyone is experiencing difficulty participating in the activities or if anything of concern happens. Role-playing games that could be implemented in the gym class would be co-designed with the gym teacher. For example, one game could be a role-playing freeze-tag game, where the gym teacher can assign roles that metaphorically represent triggers (pollen, dust, cold air, etc.), symptoms (coughing, wheezing, etc.), the inhaler, and the kids. Triggers want to tag the kids to freeze them. The kids become symptoms when frozen, and are unfrozen when the inhaler “rescues” them. Before beginning the game, the gym teacher would go through a debrief of the concepts behind the metaphors. The value that this brings is that “healers”, and the rest of the kids in the class, can solidify their understanding of what to watch out for when they are in the “healer” role.

From School to Home

In the backstage, teachers and nurses are aware of asthma incidents that occur at school. Nurses are currently already keeping record of kids’ medical history and compiling reports for parents or doctors. Since The Falk School has already implemented a touch-identification system for food allergies, the asthma component could be integrated, as well. For example, likely triggers for individual kids can be indicated along with the food allergies. This data, along with data collected by the nurse and environmental data, can be delivered to parents in some sort of compiled digital report or portal. Parents would be able to receive periodic information on their child’s health at school, which would help decrease the worry and anxiety that they often deal with. The information can also help uncover any insights on particular trigger patterns or symptoms. Additionally, parents can potentially help kids in the “healer” role by facilitating discussion at home.

Next Steps

  • Conduct follow-up interviews with the PE teacher and the nurse at The Falk School
  • Create journey map
  • Create service blueprint
  • Identify touch-points for prototyping