Every year, FARE works hard to help the general public understand the severity of food allergies through Food Allergy Awareness week. As a parent to an allergic kid, this is my life every day, every week, every year. It's exhausting trying to explain why my son can't eat a cupcake, even though it doesn't specifically contain nuts. It's tiring reading the online comments about how food restrictions are "once again catering to the minority" and "inconveniencing the majority".
Yeah, I'm super sorry that my son's life takes precedence over your kid's peanut butter enjoyment, but this is the hand we were dealt. Life and death.
On FARE's website, you can find stories about anaphylaxis, and tools and posters to share with your teachers, family and friends to help others understand just what it is we're dealing with. A little empathy goes a long way, and in the last few years that I've been writing about allergies, I've seen the changes in how people perceive them. It used to be that whenever I wrote about food bans (like in this post), the reaction on the YMC Facebook page was anger and discontent, but now, the vast majority of the commenters are kind and understanding.
Here at home, Food Allergy Canada has launched a new training program for people with life-threatening allergies and their caregivers. Called Anaphylaxis in the Community: What Parents and Others Need to Know, the program is available for free at Allergy Aware.
The more people know, the better equipped they are to handle severe allergies safely. Awareness drives changes like new food labelling laws, and guidelines for testing and protection of kids in school.
Talking about allergies matters. Building awareness matters.
Spread the word!