An innovative program at Thornbury Primary Scho¬ol is out to prove that playing the didgeridoo and singing is good medicine for asthmatic children.
Doutta Galla Community Health has received $160,000 in Federal Government funding for the music therapy program for aboriginal students.
The organization estimates one in four indigenous children have asthma compared with about one in 10 in the wider community.
The Asthma Foundation of Victoria estimates the rate of asthma in indigenous youth at one in seven.
“It’s great to have kids involved in something culturally appropriate that takes a holistic approach to asthma management,” project co-ordinator Michelle Norman said.
She said the year-long project would be evaluated mid-year and if results were positive, could be rolled out in other schools.
There are 20 students with asthma taking part in the pilot, with boys having weekly lessons from Thornbury didgeridoo player Brent Watkins and the girls learning singing with Brunswick musician Monica Weightman.
Tranditionally only males play the didgeridoo.
After a few months learning the didgeridoo, grade 2 student Ralphy, 7, from Reservoir, said he had noticed he wasn’t getting so puffed out when he ran around the playground.
“That breathing through your nose thing helps,” Ralphy said.
Mr Watkins said Ralphy was referring to the circular breathe through the nose at the same time,” Mr Watkins said.
Grad 6 student, Stella, 12, also from Reservoir, said singing was making her lungs stronger and she was also enjoying the project’s social side.
“I like getting together with the other kids and having a sing and I sing in the shower, too” Stella said.
The Asthma Foundation of Victoria chief executive officer Robin Ould said a similar project trialled in Queensland in 2010 has positive outcomes for Aboriginal children.
“Evaluation from this research clearly showed the lung capacity improved and there were positive health outcomes for those involved,” Mr Ould said.
View - TELL US: Didgeridoo-good at Thornbury school [JPG 128KB]