Teaching Children How to Be a PAL: The Protect A Life Program

Kid playing soccer in the yard
Food allergies can be life threatening. Parents of children with food allergies often struggle to educate others about the seriousness of their child’s food allergy. Frequently, parents express frustration with resistance from family, friends and the community regarding general food safety and specific requirements for their child’s allergen avoidance protocol. Additionally, if other parents are not “convinced” of the seriousness of food allergies, they will likely not educate their children on how to be a good friend and protect other children from allergens when they are together.

The Protect a Life program (PAL) can help teach kids how to help keep others safe, and be good friends to kids suffering from food allergies.

The Program

The goal of the PAL program is to arm children with the tools to protect themselves and each other, to understand food allergy issues, and to de-stigmatize food allergies. To accomplish this goal, PAL provides educational materials for adults, counselors and activity leaders for programs like scouting, sports and youth groups, in order to introduce children to concepts focused on maintaining safe food environments for their peers.

Materials include:

  • Posters with quick references to prevent exposure and cross contamination
  • Handouts
    • For children with easy to understand explanations of what a food allergy is and how they can help keep other kids safe
    • For parents who wish to teach food safety procedures to their children
  • Coloring activities for kids
  • Certificates of completion

The PAL online store also offers stickers, buttons, quick guides for recognizing anaphylaxis, preventing cross contamination, food allergy laws and more.

Establishing a PAL program can be quick and easy and is detailed in the PAL Instruction Sheet for Parents.

How to Be a PAL

Kids participating in PAL gain important information about allergies and allergy management that can save a life. Both children who suffer from allergies and those who do not, can learn about why it is important not to share food, how to prevent cross contamination, symptoms of allergic reaction, and what to do in case of and emergency.

PAL activity sheets help kids recognize that differences in diet may be related to medical issues, religious beliefs, ethnic traditions, cultural and regional dietary customs, and/or allergies. PAL also helps kids understand that it’s OK for people’s diets to be different.

Kids tend to enjoy helping others and being part of a community that is supportive. Involving your kids in their own allergy management can be empowering for them. And involving children who do not suffer from allergies can help normalize issues surrounding food allergy management and make allergen avoidance procedures routine. All kids can learn that food allergies are not “strange” and are not a reason to stay away from kids with allergies. The resulting behavior shift in children may also help reduce the incidence of food allergy bullying in schools.

Managing your child’s allergies can be easier when you have ambassadors working with you and your child to keep them safe. The PAL program helps to make ambassadors of the kids who spend the most time with your children while they are away from you.

 


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