Teach Teal: Food Allergy Awareness Created By Noelle N
Hi, my name is Noelle N. I’m sixteen years old, and I am allergic to dairy, peanuts, tree nuts, and cephalosporin antibiotics. I am a member of the Teen Advisory Group (TAG) for FARE, and I am a Staff Writer and Board Member for the Just Allergy Things Magazine.
1 in every 13 kids has food allergies. 1/3 of students with food allergies are bullied not just by their peers but by teachers, coaches, etc. 32 million people in America live with life-threatening food allergies. 220 million people globally are affected by food allergies. For my Girl Scout Gold Award Project, I created Teach Teal: Food Allergy Awareness with the goal of increasing food allergy education and awareness in schools. My Gold Award Project aims to address the issue of the lack of food allergy education and awareness in schools which leads to a national lack of food allergy awareness. In a future article, I will talk more about my food allergy education program, but first I want to address why it is important to teach about food allergies in schools.
As stated, food allergies affect so many people: children, teenagers, and adults. Food allergies not only impact what a person eats but plays a role in their everyday life, creating various challenges. While they are young, a child with food allergies will likely have to learn how to read a food label, carry life-saving medication, learn how to administer life-saving medication for themselves, advocate for themselves, and more. However, even with the large number of people who have food allergies and all the challenges that come with the condition, many people are not fully aware of the severity of food allergies. When the severity of food allergies is undermined through various circumstances, including the misconceptions in the media, fewer people understand how to help people with food allergies and the experiences they go through. One way to bring more awareness is to educate others. I believe it is most important to educate children about this topic because of the impact it will have when they go out into the world knowledgeable about a topic that affects so many people.
Often, we think about the importance of teaching the child with food allergies about their condition, but it is also important to teach other children who do not have food allergies about this condition. The reason for this is because children start learning values and morals at a young age, according to Tanja Mcllory of empoweredparents.co (Mcllory). Not only does teaching about food allergies increase awareness of the condition, but it also increases a child’s ability to empathize, show respect for others with differences, and more. For example, in an article with PBS Kids for Parents, Samantha Graton explains that she wants her child, who does not have food allergies, to be aware of what food allergies are and how they can help their food-allergic friends (Graton). Graton continues to explain how, “We all have differences in our needs, abilities, challenges, and skills. One way to celebrate those differences is by learning how to take care of each other” (Granton). Dr. Michael Pistiner, a member of the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America medical scientific council also explains in his article how, “‘Children can be amazingly supportive, and they can be the strongest advocate for their peers and their friends. And so many times when the children learn about this, they really try to be helpers.’” (Graton, Pistiner). When a child learns something at a young age, they will go out into the world with that knowledge.
Through my Girl Scout Gold Award Project, I created a curriculum to teach students in fourth grade about food allergies with the goal of increasing food allergy awareness amongst children and implementing food allergy education programs within schools. Keep a lookout for my next article which will go more in-depth about the Teach Teal Program I created!
Graton, Samantha. “Helping Your Kids Understand Food Allergies.” PBS, Public Broadcasting Service, 8 Mar. 2022, https://www.pbs.org/parents/thrive/helping-your-kids-understand-food-allergies.
Mcllroy, Tanya. “10 Values You Should Teach Your Preschool Child.” Empowered Parents, 7 April 2022, https://empoweredparents.co/values-to-teach-your-child/#:~:text=When%20Is%2 0the%20Best%20Time,natural%20part%20of%20their%20personality.
Link To My Gold Award Project Website: https://teachtealfoodallergyawareness.weebly.com/