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This was my first year actively involved in Food Allergy Awareness Week. Last year, I shared posts on my personal Facebook page but did not partake in any food allergy awareness events. It was an eye-opening, heartwarming, and slightly exhausting week. My brain is already going on how to make next year even better!
Much like a food allergy parent experiences highs and lows handling day-to-day life with allergies, I found planning for the week and the actual food allergy awareness events a bit of a rollercoaster ride as well. I am a perfectionist. I tend to dream big, perhaps bigger than my life sometimes allows. That said, with all of the food allergy awareness events I was sometimes on cloud nine about reaching a donation goal and other times in tears to my husband about how things were going.
People that I thought would be incredibly supportive weren’t. But you know what happened just as much? Others totally surprised me with their support. A few quite literally brought me to tears with their support. To be fair, a good commercial can bring me to tears these days. The older Ollie gets, just about anything he does can randomly bring me to tears too.
My favorite part of all of the events was interacting with new families. The food allergy journey can feel quite lonely sometimes. It was refreshing to talk with others who were going through the EXACT same thing in my hometown. I met a mom who has the same doctor as us in Boston. How cool is that?! I’m so thankful for the giant food allergy Facebook groups that exist. They are an amazing wealth of knowledge and I still post questions from time to time. There is something to be said about an in-person conversation with someone who could likely take words right out of your mouth. I really hope to grow our own little support group here in VT. If you’re elsewhere in the world, check FARE and other resources to see if one already exists in your area!
The first “event” of the week was the WCAX story. I was really nervous it was going to be sensationalized and focus too much on one negative experience, but Scott did a great job bringing it all together. Dr. Kent of Timberlane Allergy & Asthma provided relevant medical information and Nadeau’s Playschool painted the perfect picture of how to handle allergies. Ollie thought it was pretty darn cool to see himself on TV too.
The next day we were all at Chipotle for a fundraiser for FARE. We raised over $250 for Team Ollergy! It was fun to see so many friends and family stop by and hear there were others we don’t know who came out to support the cause as well. I’ll let everyone know next time we are headed to Chipotle as I’m pretty sure Ollie now thinks every trip involves friends and family visiting.
We conducted two story times at local libraries. Between the two, we read Nutley the Nut-Free Squirrel, Mangos for Max, The Bugabees: Friends with Food Allergies, and The Princess and the Peanut Allergy. In both cases I was blown away by the knowledge of children I did not know. Kids shared about a friend they had with food allergies and what they did to keep them safe. They were excited to talk about washing their hands and what kinds of food they can eat together. I know food allergy bullying is real. I know we will face it when my son enters school but it is so refreshing to witness positive conversations among children. Time and time again, I find that when taught what to do, kids want to keep their friends safe. We have multiple friends with young children that randomly talk about allergies, hand washing, and the like all because of their experiences with Ollie. It warms my heart.
whole health nutrition
Leslie Langevin MS, RD, CD of Whole Health Nutrition was on Fox44. She shared really powerful information from FARE before talking allergy-friendly food and cooking alternatives for common allergens. We’ve been going to Whole Health Nutrition, through our pediatrician’s office which makes it amazingly convenient, for two years now. I can’t say enough good things about how Leslie has helped our family!
We rounded out a week of food allergy awareness events at Healthy Living on the 19th. Here we sampled MadeGood granola minis, Jackson’s Honest sweet potato chips, and Tempt hemp milk. By some miracle, we were able to keep Ollie from eating all of the granola mini samples. I saw tons of people walking out with boxes too, so I know they loved them just as much as us! The questions that some asked about Ollie’s allergies and the genuine interest and concern from strangers (even if they did just want the free food), again made me really happy.
let me know what you think!
Locals, did you stop by any events? If you’re elsewhere, did you attend any other events? I’d love to hear from you as my mind starts mulling over how to make Food Allergy Awareness Week 2019 even better!