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!

 

 

 

Allergy Friendly Cupcakes To Celebrate A Job Well Done: Co-op Placement

This year, Michael partook in a unique opportunity his high school offered the Grade 11 students…a Business Specialist High Skills Major (SHSM).

A SHSM, is a ministry-funded program providing students the opportunity to participate in specific courses, complete a semester in a co-op, experience extra learning opportunities, and receive certification in First Aid, CPR and customer service.

It has been a great learning experience and opportunity for Michael…a first-hand look at working in the ‘real world’ with food allergies.

It was a great learning experience for his co-op placement as well…once they learned of Michael’s multiple food allergies…they had all kinds of questions.

Would he be all right to answer the phone?  What if he had an anaphylactic reaction?

A meeting was held with his co-op supervisor, the board of education co-op representative, his business teacher, myself and Michael where all their questions were easily answered.

Their anxiety over Michael’s multiple food allergies (dairy, egg, sesame, peanut/tree nuts, beef, lamb, fish, shellfish, mustard and raspberry) were eased by simply educating them all on the importance of washing hands, the signs and symptoms of anaphylaxis, and the administration of the Epipen.  (When Michael switched to the Allerject…he took in the Allerject trainer to train his supervisor and those working with him)

Michael’s Epipen/Allerject had a special spot on his desk that his co-workers were aware of for easy access.

Tuesday was Michael’s last day at his co-op placement…he wanted to bring something to all his co-workers as a way to thank them for all their support and guidance.

What does one bring a large group of staff?

When I was working, people would just stop at Tim Hortons for a dozen doughnuts/muffins or pick up something from a bakery or the grocery store…unfortunately, that does not work for Michael with his multiple food allergies…dairy, egg, sesame, peanut/tree nut, beef, lamb, shellfish, fish, mustard, and raspberry.

Dairy, Egg, Soy and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Chocolate and Vanilla Cupcakes to the rescue!

Dairy, Egg, Soy and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Chocolate and Vanilla Cupcakes

Everybody loves cupcakes!

A simple solution to solve…sure it takes it bit more time and energy to prepare…but then, good things in life usually do!

The staff were pleasantly surprised when Michael arrived with his assortment of allergy friendly cupcakes…everyone loves to celebrate a job well done!

Click here for Dairy, Egg, Soy and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Chocolate Cupcakes.

Click here for Dairy, Egg, Soy and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Vanilla Cupcakes.

Enjoy!

How do you raise awareness of your food allergies or sensitivities with your co-workers?

Have you ever found that your food allergies or sensitivities have limited your job choices?