Yahaira Delfin

Use funds to help our children breathe easier

Editor’s note: This opinion piece was originally published in the Albuquerque Journal on Sept. 17, 2017

My daughter Yisel suffers from very strong asthma attacks, and when she has these episodes, we have to go to the emergency room. It is very difficult to see my daughter connected to oxygen, with so many wires, and they administer medicine and steroids every 15 minutes. Because of all the medication, my daughter’s body shakes, and as a mother it is very difficult to see this. I don’t want my daughter suffering.

I got involved with the Juntos program through my son who started volunteering. I realized that it is a program that gives importance to the environment, which would greatly help my family. I know it’s important to make a positive change in my community and reduce the rate of children and families with asthma.

A big cause of asthma is dirty, diesel school buses. In New Mexico, there are approximately 166,000 kids who ride school buses, over half of whom are children of color. With so many children exposed to pollution, it’s no coincidence that more than one in 11 suffer from asthma. Here in Bernalillo County, our air quality has been given a D by the American Lung Association.

This is why I am a part of the Clean Buses for Healthy Niños campaign, an effort to call on Governor Martinez and the New Mexico Environment Department to use New Mexico’s Volkswagen settlement money to transition to clean, electric school buses. This would not only benefit our environment by reducing diesel emissions, but would also help the health of many children and families in our state.

I invite all New Mexicans to join us in calling on Governor Martinez and the Environment Department to open a formal public comment period to allow all families the opportunity to share feedback, and urge that these funds be used to transition from dirty diesel to clean, electric school buses. Together we can help our children breathe easier.

Yahaira Delfin is a mother promotora with Juntos: Our Air, Our Water.