By Stephanie Stahl

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WILMINGTON, Del. (CBS) – Children in Wilmington learned some important life lessons about asthma while playing basketball Monday.

About 6 million children in the United States have asthma. It is the most common chronic lung disease among children and a leading cause of missed school.

Monday’s program aimed to educate children while they also had some fun as they dribbled and dunked at the Healthy Hoops program.

“I think it’s [a] good thing because it’s helping out the kids,” said student Shyheem Miller.

In addition to playing basketball, children at the Police Athletic League of Wilmington also had some health checks and talks.

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“They checked us to make sure we had a physical to make sure stuff’s not going on because stuff can always be happening to you and you don’t even know it,” said student Jaylin Horsey.

They learned about asthma, a lung ailment that can cause a variety of health problems and the importance of staying healthy overall.

“If we eat right and exercise right, we’re going to have a strong heart and lungs, that’s the real message, to make certain every kid knows that,” said Dr. Maureen George of AmeriHealth Caritas.

Because symptoms can vary, children with asthma often go undiagnosed.

Doctors say once children are accurately diagnosed, they can often be treated with medications.

“Our goal is to set up opportunities to ensure that our children understand that if they do have asthma, they can live a very healthy, physically active and productive lifestyle,” said Ellen Baker of AmeriHealth Caritas Delaware.

The CDC says fewer children are having asthma attacks, probably because the condition is being managed better.

A big issue for kids with asthma is second-hand smoke that can make symptoms much worse.

Stephanie Stahl