Respiratory disease is the third-leading cause of death in New Zealand, and costs the country $5.5 billion a year. But despite New Zealand having one of the highest rates of respiratory disease in the world – over 700,000 Kiwis have a respiratory condition –  it is not highly profiled.

Breathe Better September encouraged Kiwis to start thinking about how they can improve their respiratory health, and the Foundation shared information throughout the campaign to support this. We also encouraged people to sign a photo petition to show their support for better breathing, and received hundreds of photos from supporters all around the country.

The month allows everyone, including people like the Crump family from Tauranga, to raise awareness and get friends and workplaces involved.

"Breathe Better September has been very significant to our family after receiving the news of our daughter Chloe's bronchiectasis diagnosis,” Rachel Crump says.

Giving back to a “worthy cause” was also an inspiration for one Auckland business.

“Breathe Better September is a great way to engage staff and get them talking about respiratory conditions,” Krystal Ikitoelagi from The Langham Hotel says.

The town of Dannevirke got in on the action, too, with day care centres, kindergartens and schools in the area participating in the campaign.

Breathe Better September is a huge step in the right direction to raise awareness. Asthma educator Melissa Nikora says “Children learnt to support their friends if they know they have asthma or other respiratory conditions.”

However, there’s still more work that needs to be done, Melissa adds.

“There’s still the perception that respiratory disease is a mild condition, when for some it can be life-threatening. The more we promote it, the more people may start to realise how serious it can be. I definitely want to be involved again next year.”

The Asthma and Respiratory Foundation is a not-for-profit organisation committed to those affected by asthma and other respiratory illness. Donate now to help over 700,000 Kiwis living with a respiratory condition. 

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