Book Review: A Teenager’s Perspective on Food Restrictions by Erica

How does one define a typical teenager?

One imagines they are full of hopes and dreams, hang out with their friends, go on  dates, attend the prom…hope they ‘fit in’.

Hey…I remember the teenaged years. Not a time I would gladly go back to but I understand that feeling of wanting to be ‘just like everyone else’ all the same.

With my curly, unruly hair with ‘frizzies’, freckled pale skin that burned in the sun and breathing issues that limited my ability to join actively in outdoor activities (undiagnosed asthma)...I remember that feeling of ‘standing out’ in a crowd.

Did I want to talk about it?  Not particularly.

Meet Erica.  Erica is an 18 year old teenager with hopes and dreams, loves playing baseball, hanging out with her friends and strives to ‘fit in’.

You see, Erica lives with chronic health issues…food sensitivities, joint inflammation, and cystic acne…and she wants to talk about it.

Erica writes a blog…Edible Attitudes A Teenagers Perspective on Food Restrictions. In fact, Erica has written a book about her journey with her chronic health issues…

A Teenager’s Perspective on Food Restrictions - A Practical Guide to Keep from Going Crazy”.

Perhaps it is the memory of my teenage years of trying to ‘fit in’ or the fact that I have two teenaged boys with food allergies that make them ‘stand out’ that Erica’s need to share her story resonates with me.

My boys are not keen to talk about their multiple food allergy experiences but here is a girl willing to put herself out there and share her chronic health experiences in order to help others who may be following a similar journey.

Erica states, “I hope this book encourages you through your journey as much as writing it has done for me.”

Erica’s grasp on the importance of her health seems to guide her.  She states, “When you take ownership of your health and are self-motivated, you are more willing to follow your diet restrictions, because you know why you are choosing to eat this way.”

Erica understands everyone’s journey is unique…but she is willing to share with others the ups and downs of her journey to give others hope with their own.

As a parent with two teenaged boys with food restrictions of their own who are not keen to share their feelings on the topic…I enjoyed reading about food restrictions from the point of view of a teenager living in today’s world.

Erica is offering readers of my blog the opportunity to purchase a PDF version of her book, “A Teenager’s Perspective on Food Restrictions - A Practical Guide to Keep from Going Crazy“, for only $1!

Click here for a link to the PDF version and use the coupon code, CHRONICLES (all caps).

Enjoy!

 

 

I Attended My First Toronto Anaphylaxis Education Group Meeting, May 27 2014

One of the best things I learned at Anaphylaxis Canada’s 7th Annual Community Conference was the Toronto Anaphylaxis Education Group (TAEG).

Last night,  May 27, 2014, I attended my very first Toronto Anaphylaxis Education Group Meeting…why did it take me so long?

Anyone living with anaphylaxis in the Toronto area should really check them out…great support network!

A few of the people there I recognized from Anaphylaxis Canada’s 7th Annual Community Conference. Click here for my post on attending the event.

The meeting I attended, What’s in the food? Labeling/Dining Out, was very informative.

Marilyn Allen, Foodservice Consultant for Anaphylaxis Canada, gave a thorough overview of food labeling in Canada and introduced the now available employee training program available through Anaphylaxis Canada in collaboration with TrainCan Inc….Allergen Training For the Foodservice and Food Retail Industry.

Anaphylaxis Canada states, “The program covers the basics of food allergy and anaphylaxis (what it is, signs and symptoms, and emergency plan) and teaches managers the principles necessary to develop allergen risk management procedures that are specific to their own company’s environment.  These include ways to identify and manage risk and how to avoid cross-contamination through proper storage, handling, cooking, and serving practices.”

I will definitely be contacting the Foodservices Department at the University that Michael chooses to make them aware of this fantastic allergen training opportunity.

What else did I learn?

-ALWAYS READ THE INGREDIENT LIST of pre-packaged food for food allergens before you purchase, before you open and before you consume.
-The Canadian Food Inspection Agency’s (CFIA) labelling requirements states, “All labelling information that is provided on food labels or in advertisements, as required by legislation, must be accurate, truthful and not misleading.” Click here for more information.
-Voluntary statements on pre-packaged foods such as ‘may contain’ and ‘made in a faculty…’ are just that…voluntary. ALWAYS READ THE INGREDIENT LIST.
-If a restaurant is unable to tell you the ingredients in a meal…do not eat there.
-If you suspect that you have had an allergic reaction to a product…contact the company, contact the CFIA and keep the product for scientific analysis.

Also in attendance…Sherry Mahon, President of Lily Safe Foods.  Sherry is the grandmother of Lily who has food allergies.  Sherry is in the process of conducting an anonymous survey on her website for input on her new business venture…Lily Safe Foods. 

Sherry states on her website, “Lily Safe Foods is a start up business that will provide people who suffer from the top 10 food allergens (dairy, egg, soy, wheat, fish, shellfish, mustard, sesame, tree nuts or peanuts) the option of purchasing single serving meals in a pouch that are delicious, safe, convenient and since they go through a “canning” process will last in your cupboard for up to one year.” 

Perhaps a great option for my university bound son with multiple food allergies.

The Toronto Anaphylaxis Education Group’s list of meeting dates will be available in the summer.

Hope to see you at the next meeting!

 

 

 

Multiple Food Allergies and Prom…It Can Be Done

Another milestone accomplished with multiple food allergies.

My eldest son, Michael, with food allergies to dairy, eggs, beef, lamb, fish, shellfish, peanut/tree nuts, sesame, mustard and raspberries…just had his 2014 Prom Night!

All I can say is…it can be done!

Of course, just like all his classmates…picking out just the right outfit is key.  Michael and I enjoyed our time out with him trying on suits, shirts and ties.

With a pale grey suit, white shirt and lavender tie picked out…it was on to the belt, socks (funky charcoal grey with purple polka dots) and shoes.

That is until he decided he would prefer a bow tie (Bluey purple houndstooth)…saving the lavender tie for graduation with, a yet to be picked out, jazzy kerchief for the pocket.

With the outfit picked out, the limo with about a dozen of his friends rented, it was time to think about the 2014 Prom Night meal…a buffet.

About a week before the event, I spoke to one of the teachers in charge of organizing the big event about the meal…beef, chicken, pasta with red sauce, Caesar salad, mashed potatoes, seasonal vegetables and some sort of dessert.

No matter what was on the menu…with all of Michael’s food allergens…I knew that the chef would need to create a separate meal.

I called up the banquet facility hosting the event and spoke with the events coordinator.  She assured me that their facility had worked with patrons with food allergies.  Just email her a list of Michael’s food allergies and the chef would create a meal just for him.

Literally, it was that simple.

She emailed me back this menu:

Grilled chicken (salt and pepper seasoning)
Roasted red potatoes (salt, pepper, olive oil)
Seasonal vegetables (salt, pepper, olive oil)
Dessert we will offer fresh fruit plate no raspberries

Michael’s meal would be plated in the kitchen separately and when he was ready for his meal, he was to ask a server to bring it out…perfect!

On the day of the prom, I called the principal to inform her of Michael’s separate meal.  I also inquired about the staff attending the Prom to chaperone.  The principal assured me that she was going to review with each of them the administration of an Allerject…she noted she had the Allerject trainer sitting on her desk.

I had presented her with an Allerject trainer at the last School Council Meeting along with an EpiPen trainer and other information from the many exhibitors at Anaphylaxis Canada’s 7th Annual Community Conference I attended. Click here for the post.

The principal requested that Michael inform her of his table number and even gave me her cell phone number…just in case I felt the need to call…I am pleased to say, I didn’t.

Michael even told me a teacher, aware of his multiple food allergies, the week of the Prom, stopped him in the hallway to ask if everything was set for him at the Prom…very impressed!

With all the details in place…it was time for Michael to be dropped off at his friend’s house to catch a limo!

Yes…I hung around to take pictures of all the guys and gals in their finest.

No…I was not the only proud mother taking pictures of this stellar crowd of soon to be graduates!

Yes…attending one’s Prom with a list of multiple food allergies…priceless!

P.S.  Word of advice…a thank you goes a long way..

 

 

Anaphylaxis Canada’s 7th Annual Community Conference, May 10, 2014

May is Food Allergy Awareness Month…what better way to spend it than at a day dedicated to food allergies.

On Saturday, May 10, 2014,  that is just where you would have found me…attending Anaphylaxis Canada’s 7th Annual Community Conference in Markham, Ontario, Canada.

What a day! I hardly know where the time went…so fast, I even forgot to run out and grab my lunch from the car!

At the morning parent session…I think I may have been one of the oldest mom’s in the group with a son with multiple food allergies ready to graduate from high school.

My table of 6 parents, including myself, consisted of a couple of mom’s with a child with food allergies entering JK, a mom of a girl in Grade 3 and parents of another child who I think was also in Grade 3.

The morning was all about “Partnering And Planning With Your School”.

The registering of one’s child with anaphylaxis in the school system was a big topic. Understanding the law and responsibilities of the school, providing resources on your child with anaphylaxis’ allergy management, creating an Action Plan and effective communication tools for parents were all covered.

Complete with a very ‘Oscar worthy’ role-play example performance!

All the information regarding the morning session can be found at The Toronto Anaphylaxis Education Group (TAEG).  Click here.

I really liked the ‘electronic binder information’ they have all ready for one to download…  I wish I had that resource way back when!

The afternoon session, “Managing food allergies:  Working together for a safer future” also flew by.

Great speakers from Anaphylaxis CanadaKyle Dine and three members of the Youth Advisory Panel from Why Risk It? discussed and answered questions on bullying and Laurie Harada, Executive Director of Anaphylaxis Canada moderated a great discussion on food labelling.

Dr. Adelle Atkinson’s , MD, FRCPC talk on “A Buffet of truths and myths about food allergy” easily kept the attention of all with her wit and humour.

Many exhibitors waited in the hallway for us all to descend upon them during our morning and afternoon breaks and lunch.

Exhibitors…such as Allerject (I picked up some posters and an Allerject trainer for my boys’ high school), EpiPen (I picked up some posters and an EpiPen trainer for my boys’ high school), Allergic Living Magazine (I happily subscribed for another 2 years), Medic Alert, and SunButter (my favourite being the Organic SunButter I asked if they could please make a crunchy version!)...just to name a few.

So what did I learn at this event?

1)  I was inspired to pick up as much information as I could from the exhibitors to bring back to my boys’ high school to present at the School Council Meeting on May 14, 2014.

2)  It made me realize, my boys’ high school website needs to contain information about registering a student with anaphylaxis.  Adding such information would be a welcoming sight for parents registering a student with anaphylaxis…the Principal agreed.

My experience at the high school level has taught me that not all parents feel the need to inform their child’s high school of their anaphylaxis.  Shocking I know!

By including anaphylaxis information on my boys’ high school website, I hope to bring awareness and encourage all parents of high school children with anaphylaxis to notify the Principal of their child’s anaphylaxis.  Set up a meeting with the Principal, review and fill out an Action Plan and provide the high school with an auto-injector for the office.

Continuing to be advocates at the high school level sets a good example for our children with anaphylaxis…for in only 4 years, you will be passing the torch!

 

 

 

Anaphylaxis Canada’s 7th Annual Community Conference: Are You Going?

Did you know that today is the start of World Allergy Week…April 7-13 2014?

The World Allergy Organization’s focus this week is for people to join them in their mission to ” increase awareness of Anaphylaxis – When Allergies Can Be Severe And Fatal.”

Did you also know that May is Food Allergy Awareness Month?

Perfect timing…there is a School Council Meeting tomorrow night.

At the School Council Meeting, I am planning to speak about Anaphylaxis Canada’s 7th Community Conference at the Delta Hotel in Markham, Ontario on May 10th, 2014.  Click here for more information on this fantastic event.

I am so excited to be attending this year…my first time! Hard to believe, but for some reason or other, I have had previous engagements that have prevented me from attending…this year I am free!

Anaphylaxis Canada’s 7th Community Conference is a full day conference divided into half-day sessions. “Patients, families, educators, healthcare professionals and other members of the community interested in learning about food allergy and anaphylaxis management” are all welcome.

What a great opportunity!

The morning session will consist of workshops for parents (Partnering and Planning With Your School-An Interactive Workshop For Parents) and youth, ages 13-21 (Teens Talk Allergies).

The afternoon session is open to all members of the community.

Afternoon program will include:

- Anaphylaxis Canada Update, Beatrice Povolo, Anaphylaxis Canada
Food For Thought: A buffet of truths and myths about food allergy, Dr. Adelle Adkinson, MD, FRCP
- Anxiety Alert! Understanding Anxiety in Kids With Allergies, Dr. Suneeta Monga, MD, FRCPC
- When Food Is A Weapon-Food Allergy Bullying, Kyle Dine & Youth Advisory Panel Members
- Panel Discussion: When things go wrong with food labelling, Speakers TBD -Evaluation & Wrap Up, Laura Harada, Anaphylaxis Canada

Click here for more information regarding the afternoon session.

In the morning session, I am hoping to ask some questions about students with food allergies planning on a post-secondary education.

As my eldest son, Michael with food allergies to dairy, egg, beef, lamb, fish, shellfish, peanut/tree nut, sesame, mustard and raspberries is in the process of choosing one out of three universities to attend in the fall of 2014…I am looking for some guidance.

Questions:

1)  Tips on choosing a food allergy aware university.
2)   What type of residence is recommended for a student with multiple food allergies where cross-contamination in the cafeteria limits food options? (All students in residence must obtain a meal plan)
3)  Do universities pair students with food allergies together?
4)  Will a letter from an allergist influence the type of residence a student with food allergies is assigned?

Where else can you go to talk food allergies without those around you cringing, second guessing you and/or turning a deaf ear?

As they say, ‘raising a child takes a village’.  Attending a conference such as Anaphylaxis Canada’s 7th Annual Community Conference provides parents and youth with the tools to navigate and educate the ‘village’ in which we are raising our child/children with food allergies to be the best that they can be.

How awesome is that!

Are you going?

What questions will/would you ask?

 

Tips For Parents And Students Who Are Contemplating Attending A Canadian University With Food Allergies

As you may know, my eldest son, Michael, is heading off to university in the fall of 2014.  The transition from high school to university is daunting for any parent, let alone a parent whose child has multiple food allergies.

Michael is allergic to dairy, egg, beef, lamb, fish, shellfish, sesame, peanut/tree nuts, mustard and raspberry.

I have put together some tips for parents and students with food allergies in Grade 11/12 contemplating a university degree to share. I hope you find them helpful.

My Top Tips

1) If your high school offers a ‘University Night’…I highly recommend attending when the allergenic student is in Grade 11 and then again in Grade 12.

In Grade 11, Michael was unsure about which university he was interested in…attending the ‘University Night’ a year in advance gave him some insight into what each university offered and the potential average needed to be accepted. Attending the year ahead, relieved some of the stress and pressure for both myself and Michael…it also gave Michael something to work towards.

Attending ‘University Night’ in Grade 11, prepared Michael for Grade 12. It gave him the opportunity to select his Grade 12 courses required for the university faculty of his choice.  It prepared him for what ‘University Night’ had to offer, he knew the universities he wanted information packages from and which 3 universities he was interested in listening to their university representatives brief lecture and question period.

2)  Check out Allergic Living Magazine’s ‘Comparing Universities Chart’. Click here.

Allergic Living Magazine compares the food allergy and celiac practices of 16 Canadian Universities. I found the chart very helpful. I was totally impressed that so many Canadian Universities recognized food allergy and celiac disease. It eased some of the anxiety I was feeling regarding the practices and policies of Canadian Universities in terms of food allergies.

Click here for the ‘U.S Colleges Comparison Chart’ of 25 Colleges.

3)  Definitely book a Campus Tour at each university the allergenic student is interested in attending.

It’s even better if you invite a friend along who is also interested in applying to that particular university. Michael was uninterested in campus tours until I discovered a friend of his wanted to go. Michael seemed to discuss university more openly when his friend was present than just with myself…well, that was my experience.

I just sat back, listened and learned.

The look on Michael’s face when he walked on to his first university campus was priceless. It was a real ‘eye-opener’.

I think it is safe to say, Michael was pleased he took in a few campus tours…he was super impressed with all that the universities had to offer.

4)  If you know of someone who has recently graduated from the particular university the allergenic student is interested in attending, invite them over to discuss their experiences and recommendations.

My niece graduated last year from a university Michael and his friend were thinking to apply…I invited her over the night before the ‘big tour’.  She was able to relay her experiences living in a suite-style residence, her take on ‘student life’ and the importance of engaging in some type of extra-curricular activity at the university. She got them ‘pumped’ for university, as well as, the tour.

5)  Some universities offer a ‘Preview Day’ /‘Open House’/’Campus Day’.

I highly recommend attending a Preview Day and /or Open House for at least one of your booked tours…ours was extremely informative.

6) Be sure to ask your tour guide about the universities specific food allergy policies.  It certainly helped to give both Michael and I a better idea of which universities would be a good fit for Michael and all his food allergies. Interesting to note which university tour guides were prepared for such questions, which universities had someone available to discuss specifics…basically, a university with a plan.

The strength of a university also depends on their ability to meet the needs of the allergenic student’s food allergies. Check out each university’s food allergy policies on their websites.

7)  Acceptance to some Canadian Universities may be based on the student’s Grade 11 average and their Grade 12 mid-term marks.

Michael received 2 conditional offers from 2 Canadian Universities during his final first semester exams.

Michael has some big decisions to make in the next few months.

I really think visiting the university campuses he applied to, learning about the faculty he is interested in taking at each of them and enquiring about their food allergy policies will better enable Michael to choose which university will be the best ‘fit’.

Once all Michael’s conditional offers from the 3 Canadian Universities he has applied to have arrived…he will make his decision.

 

It’s Been A Journey Preparing For University With Multiple Food Allergies And Eczema

My eldest son, Michael, will be heading off to university in the fall of 2014. He will be one amongst the many youths eager, excited and yet, a little anxious to start a new chapter of their lives.

Michael’s university experience, however, will have an added layer. What will set him apart is not his average, his sense of adventure or his charm…Michael has multiple food allergies…dairy, egg, beef, lamb, fish, shellfish, peanut/tree nuts, sesame, mustard, and raspberries.

Michael is about to embark on a journey that has been in development since he was born.

As parents, we nurture our children, teach them right from wrong, provide them with choices, watch them fall, help them find ‘their feet’ and pick themselves back up again, guide them, encourage them to learn from their mistakes, remain a strong support system, love them through out it all and then hope that all the experiences they have encountered in their lifetime with us has prepared them to meet the ‘real world’.

For Michael, and many other children, personal medical conditions add another element to their ‘life’s journey’.  An element that ‘stirs the pot’ so to speak. Leaving parents and children ‘grasping for straws’ to find their way.  I look back now and wonder how either of us survived the displacement…it was a time in my life full of confusion.

However, to look at Michael now…I know, as parents, we must have done something right. :)

In my eyes, the ‘Grade School Years’ were the hardest…Michael suffered greatly from eczema. (Although, he would argue that having food allergies were worse, but then again, his memory of the eczema years is murky…thank goodness!)

At the time, I felt his food allergies seemed manageable in comparison to the many bouts of infection he endured.  His food allergies ‘took the back seat’ until his eczema started to clear around Grade 7.  Until then, I felt tortured by the fact that there seemed to be ‘no method to the madness’ of his eczema.

My eyes would well, my throat would constrict as I held back the tears while I bathed and creamed his wounded body. 

Below are a list of a few of the posts I have written concerning Michael’s journey with his food allergies and eczema:
Click here for a post I wrote titled, “Talking About Atopic Dermatitis”.
Click here for a post I wrote titled, “Suffocating With Multiple Food Allergies and Atopic Dermatitis: Taking a Breathe In Scotland.”
Click here for a post I wrote titled, “Hockey Dominates Atopic Dermatitis and Asthma”.

During those turbulent years, I would find as many distractions as I could to keep Michael from scratching his already weakened skin…reading, games, puzzles and lots of Barney videos to keep him occupied and entranced.

Once school started, warm classrooms and stress increased his ‘itchiness’ making it harder for him to concentrate.  For many years, Michael and I would sit after school to review the day’s work and practice in a supplementary work book. Breaks consisting of sitting in front of a fan or sticking his head outdoors to cool down were often.

All I can remember at that time was how imperative it was to me that he learn the ‘basics of reading, writing and arithmetic’. I worried that the ‘window of opportunity’ for learning these ‘basics’ would pass him by and he would spend the rest of his educational life ‘catching up’.

I emphasized the fact that everything he was learning was needed for his ‘journey of life’.  He needed to ‘pack’ all that he was learning in a ‘suitcase’ to bring along with him.  No matter how much he may or may not be enjoying the work…he needed to ‘pack it’.

As he got older, I would review what he had ‘packed’ proving just how important he needed each and every step of his learning. For example, knowing how to add helps with subtracting…just as knowing one’s multiplication tables makes division that much easier. Over the years, my metaphor of a ‘suitcase’ became a symbol of his accomplishments.

Michael struggled to do well in school but it wasn’t until around Grade 7 that everything fell into place for him. As his eczema started to heal, he started to sleep through the night. This in turn allowed him to focus better in school and that is when the ‘light bulb’ went off. Everything started to make sense to him…as if the items in his ‘suitcase’ were finally coming together.

The desire and ability to do well finally came together for him. He graduated Grade 8 with Honours and was the recipient of the Christian Spirit  Award.

The common thread throughout our journey has been hope

…the hope that Michael’s choices would not be controlled by his eczema and food allergies.
…t
he hope that his eczema and food allergies would act as a catalyst for learning compassion, building a strong sense of sense, confidence and esteem.
…the hope that he would one day outgrow his eczema and food allergies.
…the hope that he would see his own potential and strive to reach his goals.

So here we are now…Michael in his final year of high school. His ‘suitcase’ has served him well. I know he has all the tools he needs to achieve the average needed for the university of his choice. It’s all up to him. Just one more semester to go.

My hope now for Michael and all youth out there with food allergies embarking on their new paths…universal acceptance.

Times are changing…the more society, immediate family, friends, peers, and educational establishments recognize the importance of embracing our children with food allergies…the easier it will be for these students to achieve their personal goals.

Hope, support, choice, faith and change have played a major role throughout Michael’s journey. They have made him who he is today…a young man with big dreams with the self-esteem, ability and opportunity to reach them…and one proud mom!

Joining My Boys With Food Allergies High School School Council

Well, I finally did it…I joined my boys’ high school School Council. After 3 years of their Vice-Principal, now the Principal, inviting me to join…I felt that this year was the year to do it.

Michael’s upcoming Graduation played a big part in my decision. Graduation events planned for the 2013/2014 year…an Annual Graduation Christmas Dinner, Graduation Day and of course, The Prom.  As each of these Graduation events involve food, research will be needed to determine a plan of action due to Michael’s food allergies to dairy, egg, beef, lamb, fish, shellfish, sesame, peanut/tree nuts, mustard and raspberries. I felt the best option for me, as a parent of children with food allergies, to figure out all the Graduation events was to get ‘on board’ and join the School Council.

“Why?”, might you say, “did I not join sooner?”  Well, each and every parent of a child/children with or without food allergies will have their own reasons for joining or not joining a School Council. Personally, I felt I needed a purpose/goal to commit myself…the idea of raising awareness of anaphylaxis to set into motion some safe-guards at Graduation events for students with food allergies gave me reason to join.

Over the years, I have been building a rapport with the Vice Principal/Principal, office staff and teachers in regards to setting up both Michael and Matthew’s Anaphylactic Emergency Plan and Medical Profile for their respective teachers and to raise more of an awareness of anaphylaxis in the school setting. When Michael started in Grade 9, there was not a system in place for the students with food allergies that met with Sabrina’s Law…now, office staff and teachers are fully aware and up to date.

Joining the School Council gives me the opportunity to reach out and raise awareness about food allergies in another forum. Michael’s unique list of food allergies continues to label us as trailblazers. It has opened the door to many educational moments…hopefully, paving the way for other students living with food allergies.

So, how has my presence at School Council regarding the raising awareness of food allergies at Graduation events progressed thus far?  I am happy to report…great!

School Council and the teachers with whom I have dealt with so far have been very accommodating…they seem very interested in the inclusion and safety of all students.

The first Graduation event was the Annual Graduation Christmas Dinner whereby, the Principal, Vice Principals and teachers put together a turkey dinner complete with stuffing, mashed potatoes and veggies for the graduating class…all cooked at the school during the day for the evening event.

Due to fact that the meal included some of Michael’s food allergens and the risk of cross-contamination in the kitchen was high…I decided to cook a complete turkey dinner for Michael at home to bring to the event.

One teacher was in charge of organizing the event.  We emailed each other in great detail…I even offered to bake Mini Dairy, Egg and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Vanilla and Chocolate Cupcakes for the graduating class’s dessert.

All was set until I received an email from the teacher in charge that Michael had not purchased a ticket. Apparently, Michael had not heard the announcements to purchase tickets and he had missed the deadline. After consulting with his friends…he decided not to go as not many of them were attending. It was his choice…too bad, because I hear it was quite the event!

Michael may have missed out on the event of the year…but at least the school is now aware of the possibility of students with food allergies attending such events.

I must say, I am enjoying my time at School Council. Should I have joined earlier? Perhaps, but I am here now and that is all that matters.

Next up…Graduation Day snacks and the main event…dinner at a Golf Club before the Prom.

For parents of a child/children with food allergies…Have you joined the School Council?  If yes, what has been your experience?  If no, are you considering it?

Anaphylaxis Canada Launches Free Allergy App For Teens

Oh happy day! Anaphylaxis Canada has just launched a free ‘Allergy App For Teens’. Click here to read all about the new app.

Having just upgraded to an iPhone, I was super excited to upload this free app from ‘Apple’s App Store’. Just search for the term “Why Risk It?”. The app is available for both the iPhone and iPad, as well as, phones and tablets that run on the Android and Blackberry operating systems. Just check their respective app stores.

Not only does Anaphylaxis Canada’s ‘Allergy App For Teens’ contain all the pertinent information all allergenic youth need regarding anaphylaxis but it also contains a direct link to the “Why Risk It? Teen Allergy Blog”. A great source for allergenic youth to read about the lives of other youth with allergies.

I will certainly be bringing it to the attention of my boys’ high school principal and at the next Parent Council (I finally joined this year).  Anaphylaxis Canada’s ‘Allergy App For Teens’ is the perfect educational tool for all teachers. It gives teachers quick, easy access to refresh their memories with information on “What is Anaphylaxis?, Symptoms, Treatment and FAQ’s”, as well as, information on “Why Risk It?” and a link to their blog.

Have you downloaded Anaphylaxis Canada’s ‘ Allergy App For Teens’ yet?

P.S.  Just to let you know…I have not dropped off the face of the earth. lol  Living, breathing, shopping, cooking and talking about food allergies 24/7 can become quite overwhelming.  I think I just needed a break from writing about it.

With my eldest son, Michael, heading off to university next year, there is much to think about…a new stage in all of our lives.  Michael’s journey towards ‘independent living’ and my journey of learning to ‘let go’.

Coming soon, I will be writing about this new chapter in our lives.

Allerject Educational Materials For All Ontario School and Public Health Units

Did you know…all Ontario Schools and Public Health Units will have received educational material regarding the latest auto-injector Allerject?

Anaphylaxis Canada,  in collaboration with the Ontario Ministry of Education, have updated their Anaphylaxis Support Kits with packages containing resources to inform and educate our educators on the Allerject. Click here for the announcement at Anaphylaxis Canada.

Minister of Education, Liz Sandals, stated, “The health and well-being of our students is a top priority for the Ontario government.”  “Together with our partners, we are committed to making our schools healthier places for students to learn and grow.”

I am more than thrilled!

The resources in Anaphylaxis Canada’s Support Kit support Sabrina’s Law…passed May 2005, Bill 3 and effective January 1, 2006.  Sabrina’s Law “requires that every school board in Ontario establish and maintain an anaphylaxis policy”...it also “requires that principals develop individual plans for pupils at risk of anaphylaxis.”

Ontario publicly funded schools, school boards and public health units received their first bilingual Anaphylaxis Support Kits in 2011…they will receive Updated Packages, whereas, new schools and public health units will have received the full packages.

The bilingual Anaphylaxis Support Kit includes epinephrine auto-injector training devices (EpiPen and Allerject), awareness and instructional posters and videos, a presentation for school personnel, as well as, related materials and other information.

Educating our educators on anaphylaxis is key to the safety of our children with anaphylaxis in their journey through the education system.

I truly believe the next step is to include the students themselves…our children with anaphylaxis’ classmates.

I know from experience with my two boys with multiple food allergies…the importance of educating their classmates on their food allergies and explaining, in age-appropriate language, the causes, signs and symptoms and treatment of anaphylaxis.

I believe…de-mystifying auto-injectors and developing an awareness of anaphylaxis early on has many benefits. 1)  It would increase a student’s understanding of a classmate with anaphylaxis. 2)  Develop an appreciation of their classmates living with anaphylaxis. 3)  Build a support network of educators and students for classmates with anaphylaxis.

I am every so grateful for the continuing compassion, empathy and support from my boys’ classmates and educators throughout their education journey.

Classmates are on the ‘front-line’…they are the most likely to witness the onset of an anaphylactic reaction. Students educated on the causes, signs and symptoms and treatment of anaphylaxis would be prepared to administer an auto-injector in the event of an anaphylactic reaction…saving precious time.

A recent article, “It’s Hard Not to Stare children’s book opens discussion on disabilities” by Andrea Gordon in the Toronto Star supports my theory of capitalizing on educating students early to embrace all their classmates, regardless of their differences. Click here to view the article.

Author Tim Huff’s latest children’s book, “It’s Hard Not To Stare: Helping Children Understand Disabilities” and his first book, “The Cardboard Shack Beneath The Bridge”, both touch on this very concept.

Tim Huff’s goal…”to demystify the unfamiliar, build empathy and prevent the kind of judgement and meanness he has witnessed during his decades working with the disabled and as an outreach worker on the street with youth.”

Tim Huff, co-founder of Street Level…”a national advocacy network on homelessness and poverty issues “ states, “If we teach children to be compassionate when they’re young it spills over to everything  and affects their character.”

He goes on to say, “At a time when bullying is rampant, it makes more sense to build on the positive by instilling compassion and dealing with kids’ questions or uncertainty about the unfamiliar, rather than simply outlawing behaviours through numerous anti-bullying programs.”

I totally agree…perhaps a children’s book focusing on anaphylaxis should be next in the works!

Now there is some food for thought.

P.S. Upon learning of Anaphylaxis Canada’s Updated Packages…I photocopied their media release to give to my boys’ high school principal.