May 16, 2012

Food Allergy Awareness Week -- start spreading the news

I'd advise against pairing ridiculous glasses
with food allergy clothing.  Quite distracting.
It's Food Allergy Awareness Week, a time to promote awareness about food allergies.  We all know someone with food allergies.  And of course we know many more people who have no food allergies at all.  This week, dedicated to awareness and education, can be especially important for those people who are unfamiliar with food allergies or unconvinced by seriousness they pose due to a lack of first-hand experience.

There are so many ways, active and passive, to increase education about food allergies.

We are so lucky in this era of the internet that there is tons, TONS of information on food allergies available to us.  What I have found most effective are videos of kids and parents living with food allergies.  Hearing first-hand accounts of allergic reactions, anaphylaxis, and the social and emotional stress that food allergies put upon kids and their caregivers is heart-wrenching.  As a food allergy mom myself, I cried hearing parents speak about their greatest fears.  They are my greatest fears, too.  Share these videos with your friends and family.

Kids and Parents Talk about Living with Food Allergies - created by the Food Allergy Initiative USA
Kids Living with Food Allergies - created by the Food Allergy Initiative USA
Parents Speak About Their Children's Food Allergies - created by the Food Allergy Initiative USA

Using EpiPen - it can save a life if everyone knows when and how to administer an Epi-Pen

"Wearing" your food allergies can be the easiest way to start a conversation about food allergies.  I can think of several moms that I now call my friends who approached me after seeing Ryken's and Callan's allergy alert bracelets or their Food Allergies Rock t-shirts.

STATKids Health ID wristbands - bright red silicone alert wristbands with contrasting white writing.
Allerbling Bracelet - bracelets with customizable allergen alert charms.
Alert Clothing - cute apparel designs for preschool-aged children.
Allergy Apparel - hip designs for alert t-shirts, bracelets, and Epi-Pen and inhaler carriers.
Medical Alert - classic and traditional metal medical alert jewelry.  They offer annual memberships that would ensure that your child's complete medical information is available to first responders and hospital staff in times of emergency.
So very fond of our bright STATKids wristbands!

Nothing sticks to the brain like a catchy tune.  And thankfully, the first ever food allergy musician Kyle Dine has shed light on food allergies in a fun and kid-friendly way.  Kyle has written songs about pride and inclusion/exclusion.  And many of his tunes are great teaching aids about Epi-Pens, the top 8 allergens, and safety tips (I'm thinking of "Stop! Please Don't Feed Me!" and "Able to Read a Label").  We at Get Allergy Wise are such big fans of Kyle's music that we hosted his premiere Bay Area performance last November.

If you have never heard Kyle's music, you can listen to many of Kyle's songs in full at his website or short samples of his two children's albums, You Must Be Nuts and Food Allergies Rock on
Kyle Dine hangs out with some happy fans before his Bay Area performance.

Sometimes the most effective way to share about our food-allergies "world" is through the written word.  Books that provide concrete images of allergic reactions and safety measures can help young readers understand.  And adults can benefit from written anecdotes about emergency room visits, risky teen behavior, and parent-child conflict -- topics that resonate with them, allergies or not.

Callan reading Juniper Skinner's Food Allergies and Me

We've compiled a list of helpful books to educate and open up discussions about food allergies.

For Kids:

Food Allergies and Me by Juniper Skinner
Taking Food Allergies to School by Ellen Weiner
Food Allergies by Christine Taylor-Butler
The Best Audience by Diana Brock
The Peanut-Free Cafe by Gloria Koster, illustrated by Maryann Cocca-Leffler
Cody the Allergic Cow by Nicole Smith, illustrated by Maggie Nichols
Allie the Allergic Elephant by Nicole Smith, illustrated by Maggie Nichols

For Adults:
Don't Kill the Birthday Girl: Tales from an Allergic Life by Sandra Beasley

Check with your local library to see if it carries copies of these books.  If these titles are nowhere to be found, think about buying your own copies.  You may buy directly from the publisher or author, or through  (Remember to use this Kids With Food Allergies link to earn money for KFA!)  Then, lend a hand to food allergy awareness by sharing your favorite titles with the libraries in your lives.   Recommendations are often greatly appreciated as librarians are constantly reviewing tons of newly published books and ordering new materials for their library collections.

Happy Food Allergy Awareness Week! 

In honor of Food Allergy Awareness Week, we will be giving away one copy each of
Sandra Beasley's Don't Kill the Birthday Girl: Tales from An Allergic Life and
Juniper Skinner's children's book Food Allergies and Me.  Enter to win by doing one of the following:
  1. Become a new Get Allergy Wise subscriber.
  2. "Like" our Get Allergy Wise Facebook page.
  3. Share this post or our Facebook page with your FB friends.
Contest ends on Sunday, May 20th, at 8pm.  Winners will be announced on our blog and FB page on Monday morning.  Prizes will be mailed directly to our lucky winners after Sarah recovers from her kids' dance recital extravaganza!

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