Miss. Kelli discussed this topic on The Rhode Show. Watch it here!
According to the statistics that have been gathered about this topic, there are about 5.9 million children within the U.S. living with food allergies. It really seems to strike a chord when you read that statement. It can’t be denied…it’s certainly a big number of our kiddos who are affected by this illness. So here are some helpful hints that can help our families, schools and communities understand and emphasize with families dealing with this difficult topic.
Let’s start by identifying what is an allergy…
An allergy is a condition, in which the immune system of the affected person reacts to something that is inhaled, eaten or touched that doesn’t affect most people. The patient’s immune system reacts to this substance as if it were and “enemy invader” so to speak. Any substances that triggers an allergic reaction is called and allergen. Common allergens may include pollen, molds, dust, animal dander and in this case allergens to certain foods.
Important things to know before school starts…
Keep your center or school informed – ensure that all administration, nurses and teachers are aware of your child’s food allergy.
Set up a meeting before school starts & get educated – What is your child’s school or child care centers policies and procedures surrounding food allergies. For instance, are they a nut and or egg free school or do they have an allergy table in the cafeteria. It’s important to find out what those specific policies are and do they meet the needs of your child. Don’t be afraid to ask questions.
Make an individual health plan – Once all the pertinent information is shared, it is important to ensure that your school nurse develops a health plan that meets the needs of your child and ensures their safety. And further it is not only important to just make the plan, but make certain that all relevant parties are included and aware of that plan in case of an emergency.
Med’s – And don’t forget to ask about med’s? How are they dispensed, who can dispense them, how are they stored and so on.
Food allergies and play dates…
Plan Ahead – making a play date with for a child with allergies can be stressful but it doesn’t have to be if you just plan ahead.
Make a phone call to the parents – Fill in the parents about your child’s food allergies. Let them know what the child can and cannot eat, as well as the severity of the allergy if they do happen to eat something by accident. Provide them with the necessary medication and directions on how to administer if need be.
Make it simple – You can also just make it a little easier for the family by just packing a bag with snacks and lunches so everyone feels safe. Sometimes another parent may feel unsure what to feed a child if they have a food allergy. They wouldn’t want to give them something with nuts or gluten (if they had that allergy) for instance just because they weren’t aware of the contents of some foods. So, it’s always better to be safe than sorry when your child is going on a play date. The goal is for kids to be kids and enjoy each other’s company and not be focusing on the food allergy.
It’s a given that all parties involved in a child’s daily life, all have the same goal in mind…to keep our kids safe from allergies. So let’s take control of your food allergies, by again educating our families, friends, schools and communities on how we can keep you safe and also raise awareness of allergies at the same time.
According to the organization FARE…YOU CAN S.A.V.E. THE DAY…
Support other kids! Never share food with friends with food allergies!
Ask an adult for help if a friend feels sick
Vow to wash your hands after you eat
Earn the title “Food Allergy Action Hero” by learning all you can about food allergies!
Kelli Didomenico brings over 20 years of experience to her role as Vice President of Family Engagement at The Children’s Workshop. In her role she welcomes and supports children and families directly but also supports the company’s center Directors to encourage families to become actively involved in their child’s education through parent committees, family events, and by volunteering in our classrooms. Additionally, she reaches out to form partnerships that enhance the services that The Children’s Workshop can provide for its families. Kelli earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work from Rhode Island College.