Healthcare professionals from Albany Medical Center on May 17 visited Harmony Hill School to educate students and teachers about cystic fibrosis (CF). The visit was arranged, in part, to create a more informed, supportive environment as fourth grader Tayler Stopera battles the disease.
“Our goal is to teach them what CF is, so it’s accepted and not looked at as something scary,” registered nurse Francie Gransbury said. “They have a classmate with CF, so they see some of the effects of the disease. Or their friend is sometimes out of school and they wonder why.”
Cystic fibrosis is a progressive, genetic disease that causes persistent lung infections and limits the ability to breathe over time. As an exercise to help students understand what it’s like to have CF, Gransbury passed out thin straws and had students try to breathe through them while plugging their noses.
“That hits home for them,” she said. “They’ll remember that it’s really hard to breathe that way. The next time Tayler is running in gym class and has to take a break, they’ll know why.”
“They can help support her,” Gransbury added. “Because she doesn’t want to leave class to go to the nurse for treatment. If her friends say ‘It’s ok. Sit and rest and we’ll wait for you,’ that’s what’s important. This helps build that understanding.”
Harmony Hill on May 19 had a team of about 25 people participate in the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation 5K at The Crossings of Colonie in support of Tayler.