Federal MP to take 237,000 steps for asthma

Patrick Gorman gets to do plenty of walking in his role as the Federal Member for Perth.

“As one of the younger, and therefore fitter, members of the Federal Parliament my office is about as far away from the Chamber as you can get, so on any regular parliamentary day I get to do a good 10 to 15,000 steps,” Mr Gorman says.

That makes him perfectly placed to take part in Asthma WA’s Wheezy Walk, which aims to shine a light on asthma and the impact it has on the lives of more than 237,000 West Australians.

Mr Gorman says he is familiar with what it is like to have asthma, having had the condition for as long as he can remember.

He was a chronic asthmatic child, in and out of hospital quite a bit, missing school at primary school and then wasn’t all that sporty at high school.

He says his parents broke speed limits at one time or another rushing him to Fremantle Hospital.

To this day, asthma is something Mr Gorman is conscious of and takes seriously, being very aware of how quickly it can flare up and turn into an asthma emergency.

Starting from October 1 Asthma WA wants people to get sponsored to take 237,000 steps over four weeks to help raise awareness and support for West Australians with asthma.

Mr Gorman says he is pretty confident of being able to make the 237,000 steps. “But I’ll keep an eye on it because I don’t want to get to October 25 and then have to walk 20,000 steps a day to reach the target.”

Mr Gorman says he walks a lot to keep fit, he has two small children, a three-year-old and a nine-month-old.

“We have the mega tractor pram and I push them around quite a bit through North Perth where we live and around Hyde Park, but when I can I like to pick up the bike and go for a ride.”

It was only in high school that he got on top of it and was able to come off of some of his medications, although he still carries his reliever, Ventolin, around with him.

“For me now, it’s come full circle and worrying if my three-year-old son Leo is exhibiting some signs that he might have asthma.

“And on a personal level that’s where my concerns now lie, potentially being the parent of a child with asthma.”

There has been much progress in terms of treatment since Mr Gorman was a child, in part he says through the work of Asthma WA over many decades.

“The biggest impact is awareness both in terms of people knowing how to handle an asthma attack and for those with asthma, how to manage their condition.

“On the science side there are a lot more effective preventative medications now, which is fabulous.

“There are things we know about, how to manage particular triggers, but this is where Asthma WA comes in, there is always more that can be done and more to learn.”

Mr Gorman says that because of his asthma he missed out on some activities as a child.

“As a kid with asthma you can’t necessarily keep pace with other kids, but I went to a pretty hippy school in Fremantle, so I was lucky that bullying wasn’t a large part of the school experience, but it was more that sense of feeling like you are missing out on things.

“I guess that means we need to have inclusive activities, making sure that kids with asthma who might be having a bad day are included in a way that helps manage it.”

Mr Gorman says people have become more aware of respiratory illness over the last 18 months with the global focus on the COVID-19 pandemic.

“That will a lasting effect of the pandemic where people have a bit more understanding of respiratory illnesses and respiratory challenges, including asthma.”

Asthma WA is launching its very first Wheezy Walk to challenge people to take one step for every child and adult in Western Australia with asthma this October.

That makes it 237,000 steps over four weeks, working out to be an average of just over 8,000 steps per day. In doing so, Asthma WA is encouraging people to raise vital funds while they talk more about asthma, it’s very real impacts and how they can help people with asthma to live well with confidence.

Australia has one of the highest rates of asthma in the world and while there are so many people in the community living with the condition, there is still much misunderstood about it.

People wanting to participate in the Wheezy Walk can register online at asthmawa.org.au/wheezywalk

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