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Thursday, May 2, 2013

Teachers, Peanuts and Frustration for All - Please Take our Food Allergies Seriously

20 to 30 years ago, I imagine managing food allergies wasn't very common in the classroom, especially for teachers.  I can't remember a single kid with food allergies growing up.  I can only imagine the challenges and frustrations this must present for teachers at times, especially when dealing with multiple children with multiple food allergies in one classroom.

However, the times have changed and our attitudes and awareness need to too.

Today I was asked to bring in a substitute snack for my daughter when she attends her school trip next week.  The reason being is that the teacher didn't want her to have a problem with the peanuts which would be in the trail mix snack she would be bringing in for the kids.  I bet the teacher has been offering this treat for years and it's something she looks forward to sharing.  

Well, my daughter isn't allergic to peanuts.. she's allergic to milk and tree nuts.  But her classmate is, and it's a severe one.  The 'emergency room, auto-injector' type.  I know he probably wouldn't eat a single nut, but imagine the stress and anxiety the following scenario would create for him:

  • 3 to 4 kids in a car or mini-van.  Everyone has or had a bag of trail mix containing peanuts.  Kids touching things.. wiping their hands all over.. poking at one another because this is what kids do.

Really?  Is it worth taking the chance that JUST MAYBE, someone will have peanut oil on their hands, open a car door before he does, then he does, wipes his lips because he's got an itch.. AND then we have the opportunity to see an AUTO-INJECTOR in action!

Please, let us know what WE can do as parents to help.  Want us to bring in the trail mix? Want us to help you figure out SAFE alternatives so that everyone can join in?  We can... you just have to ask.

We're sorry for the imposition.  We're sorry it's inconvenient.  Imagine what it's like for these kids who are going to have to deal with LIFE THREATENING allergies for THE REST OF THEIR LIVES.  

Just last week, eleven year old Tanner Henstra from Utah died after having an anaphylactic reaction to peanuts.  Although it may have been prevented if he'd had his auto-injector on hand, we all know that EVERY day isn't perfectly orchestrated for our kids with food allergies.  We all do the best we can.  I can only hope and pray that my kids will remember to ALWAYS carry their auto-injector with them.  His death weighs heavy on my heart as it could be my son or daughter.

Please take our kids allergies seriously.  LIVES truly are at risk.    

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