By Kristen Chandler
Whether our kids are starting a new school year or a new activity, we as parents are constantly educating new people who will be crossing paths with our food-allergic children. But have you ever felt like maybe you aren’t getting through — that no matter how much you talk or explain, some people still just don’t understand how serious food allergies can be?
Most teachers are required to attend training workshops. Wouldn’t it be great if there were some sort of training that helped teachers, daycare staff and other parents better understand food allergies and what to do in the event of a severe allergic reaction? Well, now there is.
The History of Safe4Kids
Television producer and food allergy mom Courtney Mullin experienced many of the same frustrations when looking for preschools and recreational activities for her daughter. She felt there were not enough visually engaging educational materials available to teach others about food allergies, so Courtney decided to produce a video herself. To that end, she teamed up with her sister Kerry Walsh, who is a health educator, and Dr. Scott Sicherer from the Jafee Institute at Mount Sinai Hospital. With their help and guidance, she produced “Food Allergies in Children: A Growing Epidemic.”
Courtney and her team also started Safe4Kids, a nonprofit organization whose goal is to educate those who care for children about food allergies, as well as provide resources for families who are looking for allergy-friendly environments for their kids. “Food Allergies in Children: A Growing Epidemic” is the first professionally produced video that takes the Centers for Disease Control’s “Voluntary Guidelines for Managing Food Allergies in Schools and Early Care and Education Programs” and presents them in an easy-to-understand manner.
This video is ideal for anyone coming in contact with children with food allergies, including parents, grandparents, teachers and other members of the community — basically, anyone. The purpose of the video is to educate others in a visual way where words alone may fall short. The video and any training programs used along with it will help teach people what food allergies are, what to do in the event of an allergic reaction, how to reduce the risks of accidental exposure, how to maintain safe environments for allergic children, and why it is so important to have food allergy policies in place.
Courtney says, “When policies are put in place without education, parents get angry and resentful. These programs help to bridge the gap between food allergic children and non-allergic children.”
Feedback for Food Allergies in Children: A Growing Epidemic
- An anonymous parent said, “Thank you so much for creating such a great video and presentation. My son had his first anaphylactic reaction last night, and I would not have known that anaphylaxis can occur without hives if I did not come to your workshop.”
- Neil Morgonroth from Pierce Country Day School commented, “I highly recommend that schools, camps and anyone who wants insight into how to create a safe environment for children buy this video and attend a program.”
- “This is a great resource and educational video about food allergies,” said food allergy blogger Jenny Sprague.
There are so many positive aspects to this video, which I think will prove to be an extremely valuable food allergy resource and educational tool. For one, I love how the film not only features parents talking about their children’s food allergies, but also includes the children speaking openly about them. Viewers are able to see that food allergies have a face, and those faces vary. These are real kids of different ages and ethnicities, who play sports and musical instruments just like other kids. But unlike other kids, one bite of the wrong food, or accidental cross contact, could kill them.
Another thing I really like is how the video covers topics that viewers may not otherwise think about but that are important to food allergy parents, such as food allergy bullying, our fears of cross contact and the devastating reality of what could happen if the person caring for our child doesn’t know how to respond to an emergency situation.
I would love to team up with the administrators at my children’s school and have them purchase and present this video and provide training to other educators and interested parents. The more we educate, the more opportunities there will be for safe environments for our food allergic children.
What’s Up Next for Safe4Kids?
The Safe4Kids team is in the process of publishing a children’s book and getting ready to produce another educational video, with children being the target audience.
You can watch the video trailer, purchase and download “Food Allergies in Children: A Growing Epidemic” and stay up to date with the latest Safe4Kids news on their website. You can also follow them on Facebook and Twitter at @Safe_4_Kids.