From World Asthma Day through Mother’s Day, we’re sharing the stories of moms who are fighting for clean air on behalf of their children. Today, meet Julie Novel and her son, Anthony:
I suffer from asthma. Growing up in a highly polluted area of Huntington, West Virginia, I remember feeling like there was a pallet of bricks sitting on my chest. Despite dealing with respiratory issues myself, knowing intimately what it’s like to fight for breath, I didn’t feel the deep, personal urge to fight for clean air until I became a mom — when my son Anthony was diagnosed with Pulmonary Obstructive Disorder (POD).
Anthony has had POD since he was around three years old. By the time he turned five, he had been hospitalized several times from colds that turned to pneumonia. Today, Anthony is an active nine year old boy. He loves baseball and playing outside, but too often, his respiratory issues keep him from joining the fun. Just last year he was hospitalized again with pneumonia instead of with his teammates at his baseball playoff game.
In addition to missing baseball games and playing outside with friends, Anthony missed 8-10 days of school last year. Just last week, I picked him up from school fifteen minutes after I dropped him off because he was having trouble breathing. So not only is Anthony missing what he loves to do, he’s missing out on opportunities to learn. No child should have to face that.
On the days Anthony can’t go to school, I stay home with him the whole day, monitoring symptoms. When I don’t feel well, I often push myself to go into work, because I want to save the time off for when Anthony needs me.
Working with Moms Clean Air Force makes me a powerful mom. I feel like I can do something that not only brings attention to children like Anthony’s respiratory issues, but also makes a positive change. I’ve learned about how the policy process works and the ways I can make an impact as a mom on the way policymakers think and the decisions they make.
Moms Clean Air Force makes it easy to be an advocate for children’s health, while protecting the world Anthony and his classmates are inheriting. I’ve watched climate change ravage our planet — the planet we’re handing off to our kids. It’s already damaging Anthony’s health. I see his generation suffering more than mine did. And the consequences will be even greater. There’s no time to wait.