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Join Canadian race car star Alex Tagliani, in the Summer of TAG 2018, as he races across Canada and helps to raise awareness about food allergies! Through this joint initiative, undertaken by Alex and Food Allergy Canada, with the support of Pfizer Canada, Alex hopes to reach Canadians from coast-to-coast.

How you can be involved

This year our theme is on creating an allergy-friendly environment in the kitchen. Help us raise awareness by participating in these activities:

Watch this sneak peek with Alex and Thea

The Allergy-Friendly Kitchen Contest - teaser - YouTube

Visit foodallergycanada.ca/SummerofTAG today to learn more about Summer of TAG and to enter our Allergy-Friendly Kitchen Contest. Let’s make it a summer full of awareness from coast-to-coast.

The post Launching today! The Summer of TAG Allergy-Friendly Kitchen Contest opens July 9th. appeared first on Food Allergy Canada.

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The research team at Inflamax Research in Mississauga, Ontario is seeking children (5-11 years of age) and youth (12-17 years of age) with a peanut allergy, and no history of anaphylaxis, to participate in a new investigational immunotherapy study for peanut allergy.

Please see their call for participants below for more details. If your child is interested in participating, we encourage you to contact the research team directly to learn more about potential risks and benefits of this study, and to also speak with your child’s physician. Please note, the call for participants ends on July 15, 2018.

From the research team

Inflamax Research in Mississauga, is looking to speak to parents with children and adolescents with peanut allergies. Following is their announcement:

Currently, there is no effective treatment for peanut allergy other than avoidance of peanut allergens. Our experienced research team, led by Dr. Peter Couroux, is working closely with pharmaceutical organizations to explore therapies for people with peanut allergies. Currently we are conducting a peanut allergy study for children and adolescents. The details for each age group is summarized below:

FOR CHILDREN (5-11 YEARS)

We are currently conducting a general screening for food allergies. This general screening will help us determine eligible candidates for an upcoming peanut allergy study at Inflamax Research. No medication will be administered or tested during this screening assessment.

Eligibility
  • Participants: Must be between 5 to 11 years of age (parent/guardian must sign a consent form)
  • Diagnosis: Your child must have received a peanut allergy diagnosis from an allergist, family doctor, or pediatrician. Participants should not have a history of anaphylaxis.
How to participate

Participation will involve the following:

  • Step 1: Passing a telephone questionnaire (approximately a 20 minute call with a recruitment coordinator)
  • Step 2: Attending a screening visit at the Inflamax Research clinic in Mississauga, Ontario which will take approximately 3 hours. During this visit, a detailed medical and allergy history, physical examination and blood work will be conducted during the screening. The results of this assessment will help us to determine if your child is eligible for an upcoming allergy study.

Participants will be compensated with $50 for the screening visit.

FOR ADOLESCENTS (12-17 YEARS)

We are currently enrolling adolescents in a study examining the safety and tolerability of an investigational modified peanut protein subcutaneous immunotherapy. If you are a parent of an adolescent with a peanut allergy, we invite you to contact us about a current peanut allergy study.

Eligibility
  • Participants: Must be between 12 to 17 years of age (parent/guardian must sign a consent form)
  • Diagnosis: Your child must have received a peanut allergy diagnosis from an allergist, family doctor, or pediatrician. Participants should not have a history of anaphylaxis.
  • Other: Your child must be able to travel to our Mississauga clinic for weekly visits that last 5 hours in duration.
How to participate

Participation will involve the following:

  • Step 1: Passing a telephone questionnaire (approximately a 20 minute call with a recruitment coordinator)
  • Step 2: Attending a screening visit at the Inflamax Research clinic in Mississauga, Ontario
  • Step 3: Once your child is deemed eligible for the study, there will be 15 visits to the Inflamax Research clinic to complete the subcutaneous dosing schedule (each visit will last approximately 5 hours)
  • Step 4: Participating in a few follow-up phone calls upon completing the dosing schedule

The study should take around 4 months to complete and each clinic visit will last around 5 hours. Participants who successfully complete the study will receive a maximum compensation up to $4250.

CONFIDENTIALITY

Participation in these studies is entirely voluntary. You may refuse to participate or you may discontinue your participation at any time without explanation. All information obtained during these studies will be kept strictly confidential to the extent allowable by law. The research data will be available only to the research team. This study has been reviewed by IRB Services, an independent Research Ethics Board.

QUESTIONS

If you have any questions, please contact Jodi Graham, at jgraham@inflamaxresearch.com or call 905-282-1808

REGISTRATION

Click on this link to register: www.sneezetoronto.com

Registration will be open until: 15-Jul-2018

The post Updated call for participants: Immunotherapy study for peanut allergy appeared first on Food Allergy Canada.

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A latex allergy study is underway at Inflamax Research in Mississauga, Ontario. They are seeking healthy adults to participate in this study.

As there is cross-reactivity with latex and some foods, like banana, avocado, chestnut, and kiwi, some members in the food allergy community may also have a latex allergy or know affected individuals who might be interested in this study (please share with them).

Following is the announcement from the research team.

From the research team:

A study is presently underway at Inflamax Research in Mississauga, to identify subjects with Allergic Contact Dermatitis (ACD) to common rubber allergens. They are seeking healthy males and females to participate in a latex allergy study. Following is their announcement:

We would like to invite you to participate in a research study we are conducting. Our research team, led by Dr. Peter Couroux is looking to determine whether a rubber medical device contains chemicals which might cause a skin reaction in individuals who are already allergic to common chemicals found in rubber. This may include such products as balloons, latex gloves and bandages to name a few.

How to participate

Participation will involve passing a telephone questionnaire and then attending a screening visit at our clinic in Mississauga. This is a 2-part study and participants need to pass the first part in order to be eligible for the second part. If the participant is deemed eligible for the study there will be 3 visits for each study part to the Inflamax clinic in Mississauga.

Participants who successfully complete the 2-part study will receive a maximum compensation of $800.

Eligibility

To be eligible for the study, participants must be healthy males or females between 18 – 65 years of age and have a latex allergy. Patches containing common Allergic Contact Dermatitis (ACD) inducing substances will be applied to the upper arm followed by an evaluation of the patch application sites. Participants must be able to travel to our Mississauga clinic for the visits and be available for the 2-part study (based on passing part 1); each part consists of 3 visits and approximately 7 total hours in duration.

Confidentiality

Participation in this study is entirely voluntary. You may refuse to participate or you may discontinue your participation at any time without explanation. All information obtained during this study will be kept strictly confidential. The research data will be available only to the research team. This study has been reviewed by IRB Services, an independent Research Ethics Board.

Study Link

To participate in this study, please click on this link to register: www.sneezetoronto.com

Registration will be open until 13-Aug-2018.

Questions:

If you have any questions about this study, please contact Jodi Graham, jgraham@inflamaxresearch.com 905-282-1808

The post Call for participants: Latex allergy study appeared first on Food Allergy Canada.

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Is it true that if there is a chance of cross-contamination of an allergen in a pre-packaged food, companies must label the product with a “may contain” warning?

Not currently. Allergen precautionary statements such as a “may contain” (or similar) statement on food labels are used by manufacturers and importers on a voluntary basis to alert consumers to the possible inadvertent presence of an allergen not intended to be in the product. Cross-contamination can occur during food processing and packaging in a facility that uses shared equipment, or through handling, for example.

Consumers are encouraged to call manufacturers directly to inquire about allergen labelling practices. While importers are required by law to follow Canadian labelling rules, there have been instances of product recalls due to undeclared allergens in foods. We recommend that consumers with food allergies be cautious of imported products because food labelling regulations vary by country.

For more information about “may contain” statements, please visit our food labelling information page. You can also learn more about our advocacy for improved “may contain” food labelling guidance.

Help us educate your communities and share this mythbuster with them! Stay tuned for more mythbusters to come.

Medical content reviewed by: Dr. Julia Upton, MD, FRCP(C) Clinical Immunology and Allergy

Check out our blog for other myths and facts about:

The post Mythbuster: Are “may contain” allergen labels mandatory in Canada? appeared first on Food Allergy Canada.

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Participate in our many webinars offered this month! Plus, be sure to check out the support group meetings happening in June! You can also read about Angela’s journey with food allergy and why she started up a support group in Moncton.

Upcoming webinars
  • June 27: Travel tips webinar for young adults with food allergies

Join us for an informative and lively webinar later this month to learn how to stay safe while travelling with food allergies.

Hear first-hand accounts from our panel of youth advisors and Kyle Dine, our youth coordinator and food allergy educator/musician. He is an avid traveller who is the co-founder of www.allergytravels.com and has much to share about how to manage multiple food allergies, regardless of where you travel.

You’ll also learn the basics of travelling with food allergies, trip-planning advice, first-hand tips and be introduced to useful resources to help you on your journey.

Don’t miss out, register for the webinar today!

  • Allergy Pals Monthly webinars

Join us on June 24th to talk about managing food allergies while camping.

Every month, kids with food allergies who are between the ages of 7-11 can participate in webinars that will cover key information on managing food allergies.

Each webinar is led by a trained peer mentor with food allergies and there will also be plenty of interactive games and activities that will have your child glued to the presentation!

Register your child today for the June 24th webinar.

Check out one of our previous webinars:

Allergy Pals Monthly - Eating Out with Food Allergies - YouTube
  • Webinars on the foundation in food allergy
Carla, community advocate and parent mentor

Attend one of our free webinars on managing food allergy and anaphylaxis. Topics covered include the basics of food allergy, risk reduction, symptom recognition, and emergency management. There will also be time for questions afterwards.

If you have already attended one of these webinars, please help us spread the word so others can also benefit. Please share!

Two formats are offered, click on the links below to learn more and register:

Check out this month’s support group meetings! Angela Harris

Support groups provide a warm, caring environment for you to share your concerns. You’ll get help in dealing with the day-to-day stress of being at risk for anaphylaxis, or having a child who is at risk. Check out the support group meeting happening this month!

Plus, read our support group profile on Angela Harris from the Greater Moncton Allergy Education Group.

Ontario

Toronto Anaphylaxis Education Group (TAEG)

  • Date: Tuesday, June 5 from 7 pm – 9 pm EDT
  • Location: Edithvale Community Centre, 131 Finch Avenue West
  • Topic: Youth panel – allergy experiences
  • RSVP: info@taeg.ca

To connect with one of our other support groups, visit our support group page. If there isn’t one in your community, we’ll help you get one started.

The post Get involved – June 2018 appeared first on Food Allergy Canada.

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We’ve launched the Summer of TAG, with race car star Alex Tagliani! This year’s theme is around allergy-friendly kitchens – be sure to check out exclusive allergy-friendly recipes created by MasterChef Canada 2017 finalist Thea Vanherwaarden and Registered Dietitian Linda Kirste.

Learn about our collaboration with the Sweet Caroline Foundation and the recently launched pilot program for Canadian middle and high schools.

Attention post-secondary students: be sure to apply for the Sabrina Shannon Memorial Award for a chance to win $1,000. Hurry, the deadline for applications is June 22nd.

Food Allergy Awareness Month is over and we accomplished so much together! Find out how we did with our national outreach efforts. Also, check out our articles that were featured within Maclean’s magazine last month.

Summer of TAG has launched!

Join race car driver Alex Tagliani in raising awareness of food allergies with the Summer of TAG.

This year, the theme is on creating an allergy-friendly environment in the kitchen. From tips on how to cook safely and minimize the risk of cross-contamination, to recipes that have been exclusively created by MasterChef Canada 2017 finalist and allergy awareness advocate Thea Vanherwaarden, and Registered Dietitian Linda Kirste.

How you can be involved:

  • Create allergy-friendly meals – Alex along with MasterChef Canada 2017 finalist and allergy awareness advocate Thea Vanherwaarden create allergy-friendly recipes through interactive cooking demonstrations. Download the recipes now!
  • Participate in the Allergy-Friendly Kitchen contest – Coming soon! This contest launches on July 9, 2018.
  • Tips on cooking safely – Follow our top 10 cooking tips to help keep your kitchen allergy-friendly.
  • Attend a race – Cheer Alex on at his races across Canada and help to promote food allergy awareness with him.
  • Check out Alex’s top 10 list and share with others – Alex provides his advice for having a safe and fun summer.
Sweet Caroline Foundation launches Allergy Awareness in Schools pilot program

This past May, the Sweet Caroline Foundation announced the launch of a pilot project – Allergy Awareness for Schools – in collaboration with Food Allergy Canada. The program, meant for middle schools and high schools, includes a new video called “Caroline’s Story.”

Read more about the launch.

Watch the video (please note, this video is meant for teens):

Caroline's story - YouTube

Please email us at info@foodallergycanada.ca by July 15th if you would like to learn more about launching this program at your child’s school. Please note, this program is suitable for middle schools and high schools.

Call for applications – ENDS SOON: The Sabrina Shannon Memorial Award Sabrina Shannon

Apply for your chance to win one of two $1,000 awards. You must be a student entering your first year or continuing your studies at a post-secondary institution. Applicants do not need to have food allergies to be eligible for the award.

Learn more and apply by June 22, 2018.

Food Allergy Awareness Month: What we accomplished together

Thank you for supporting Food Allergy Awareness Month. Many of you participated in the various events this year –

  • Painting a fingernail teal to prompt conversation and discussion
  • Sharing our videos and tip sheets
  • Wearing purple for Purple Day
  • Checking out the teal lit national monuments
  • Hosting an Allergy-Friendly Food Drive
  • Starting a fundraiser to support allergy awareness and education

This year, we drove 30 million impressions for food allergy awareness throughout May. This is our biggest outreach effort yet, thanks to our national outdoor billboard campaign and our digital/social campaign. Learn more about the campaign.

However, KEEP spreading the word! Although Food Allergy Awareness Month is now officially over, let’s keep allergy awareness and education top of mind all year long!

Here’s a great article for you to keep sharing on why people not impacted by food allergies can help!

Food Allergy Canada featured in Maclean’s insert

Last month, we were featured in an Asthma and Allergies insert inside Maclean’s magazine to create awareness around supporting children with food allergies and tips for dining out.

Check them out:

  • When dining out, “first and foremost, you need to do your homework”. Read the article for more helpful information when dining out with food allergies.
  • Read the article on how to support children with food allergies. We speak about the importance of reading food labels.

The post Latest news from Food Allergy Canada – June 2018 appeared first on Food Allergy Canada.

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Linda Kirste, RD

Linda Kirste is a Registered Dietitian. She works at HealthLinkBC where she operates the Allergy Nutrition Service ― a tele-practice-based service that provides nutrition education, as well as counselling and follow-up care for residents of British Columbia with food allergies.

This month, Linda addresses the question that many parents of children with food allergies have – how to ensure their child is growing well and what to do when your child has a low weight.

Many parents of children with food allergy worry from time-to-time whether their child is growing well. If you’re concerned about your child’s weight, there are a number of things you can do.

  • Ask your child’s health care provider to monitor your child’s growth which is done by measuring their height and weight at regular intervals. This may include more frequent appointments for a period of time so that the health care provider can closely monitor growth and determine whether your child’s growth is progressing at a healthy rate.
  • Ask to see your child’s growth chart with an explanation about what it reveals.
  • If your child’s growth curve shows signs of low weight (weight faltering), ask for an assessment and a care plan to support you in your efforts to help your child grow to their full growth potential.
What does growth monitoring involve?

Growth monitoring involves accurately measuring your child’s height and weight at regular intervals and plotting these measurements on a growth chart. Over time your child’s personal growth curves for height, weight, and weight in proportion to height will be revealed. Unexpected changes in their growth curves will show on the growth chart. You can access the World Health Organization (WHO) growth charts that are recommended for Canada.

How do growth charts help reveal my child’s growth pattern?

The WHO Growth Charts for Canada include a number of standard curves called “percentiles”. Each percentile represents a healthy rate of growth.

Higher percentiles indicate a larger or taller child and lower percentiles indicate a smaller or shorter child. For example, a girl at the 75th percentile for height would be taller than 75 out of 100 girls of the same age. Children’s shapes and sizes are influenced by those of their parents. Therefore, children whose parents are taller are more likely to have height measurements that “hug” or “surf” around a higher percentile, while children whose parents are shorter are more likely to have height measurements at a lower percentile.

A child’s height and weight percentiles also help their health care provider compare their weight in proportion to their height. When a child’s weight and height are at or close to the same percentile their proportion is said to be “symmetrical” or even. Monitoring a child’s growth includes comparing their weight to their height over time. This helps to pick up any changes that suggest their weight is or may be faltering.

Occasional smaller temporary dips away from a child’s usual growth pattern can be normal, especially during or right after a short illness. Before 2 to 3 years of age, and also during puberty, it may be normal for a child’s weight (and/or height) to drift to a new percentile and continue along that path. When this happens, more frequent measurements may help to confirm continued growth at the new percentile.

How often should my child’s weight and height be measured by their health care provider?

The following provides guidance on when weight and height measurements should be taken. Additional monitoring should be included during other health check-ups/medical visits and based on the child’s growth progress:

  • 0-9 months: At 1 to 2 weeks, then at 1, 2, 4, 6 and 9 months
  • 12 months to 2 years: At 12, 18 and 24 months
  • After 2 years: Once a year is recommended
What services are available to assess and provide a care plan for my child?

A registered dietitian (RD) can offer to review your child’s dietary intake and eating patterns and explore ways to help your child meet their nutrient needs. Children with food allergies may need extra help to get the nutrients they need for healthy growth. RDs have the training and skills to translate the science of nutrients and healthy eating into practical advice to help your child meet their nutrient needs. Ask your child’s health care provider to refer your child to an RD who works with children. You can also read an earlier post about how to find a registered dietitian.

Pediatricians are physicians who are specialized in infant, child, and youth health. They have expertise in ensuring children reach their expected milestones, including their growth potential. Your child’s family doctor or nurse practitioner can refer your child to a pediatrician when additional medical care would be helpful. As part of your child’s health care team, they can offer additional insights and medical expertise and contribute to your child’s personal health care plan.

Pediatric allergists are pediatricians who specialize in caring for infants, children, and youth with allergic conditions such as eczema (atopic dermatitis), food allergy, hay fever (allergic rhinitis) and asthma. They can offer children with food allergy concerns additional care such as clarifying food allergies, discussing treatment options and monitoring for signs whether a food allergy is being outgrown.

Additional resource

Is my child growing well? Check out this Dietitians of Canada resource that addresses some common questions about healthy growth in children

Thank you Linda for the great insight!

To read Linda’s other articles with us, visit our blog section, or click here to read about:

Do you have a question you’d like to ask Linda in the months to come? If so, please send it along to us at info@foodallergycanada.ca.

The post Ask the expert: I’m concerned my child’s weight is too low – what should I do? appeared first on Food Allergy Canada.

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Make sure your voice is heard! Participate in an important study that’s looking at the costs involved in living with food allergy. Find out about our recent advocacy efforts, and be sure to check out our mythbuster which asks the question, “Are “may contain” allergen labels mandatory in Canada?”.

Plus, learn about the latest in food allergy research: find out how immune cells may be used to treat food allergy, learn about the results of a peanut oral immunotherapy clinical trial, and read about a new European study that shows significant psychosocial burden associated with peanut allergy.

Call for participants: A study on the costs of living with a food allergy

If you are an adult or parent/caregiver of a child with food allergy, you are invited to participate in a study looking at the costs involved in living with a food allergy.

The results of this study will help inform organizations like ours on the economic impact of living with this medical condition. This allows us to advocate on your behalf to make positive changes within government and industry. Your participation is crucial to providing the researchers with meaningful results. Please take a moment to complete the survey.

Participate today!

Advocating for clarity around “may contain” labelling Beatrice Povolo

Beatrice Povolo, our Director of Advocacy, presented “Allergen labelling – the consumer perspective” at the International Food Allergen Methodologies Workshop last month.

Hosted by Health Canada and the University of Nebraska’s Food Allergy Research and Resource Program, this conference gathered food allergy scientists, researchers, and other global key stakeholders in the food industry to discuss issues related to the detection, identification, characterization, and control of allergen residues in foods.

Beatrice’s presentation spoke about the importance of clear food allergen labelling, with a focus on greater clarity around the use of precautionary statements (e.g. “may contain”) – this not only benefits the food allergy community but all Canadians.

Mythbuster: Are “may contain” allergen labels mandatory in Canada?

Is it true that if there is a chance of cross-contamination of an allergen in a pre-packaged food, companies must label the product with a “may contain” warning?

Not currently. Allergen precautionary statements such as a “may contain” (or similar) statement on food labels are used by manufacturers and importers on a voluntary basis to alert consumers to the possible inadvertent presence of an allergen not intended to be in the product. Cross-contamination can occur during food processing and packaging in a facility that uses shared equipment, or through handling, for example.

Consumers are encouraged to call manufacturers directly to inquire about allergen labelling practices. While importers are required by law to follow Canadian labelling rules, there have been instances of product recalls due to undeclared allergens in foods. We recommend that consumers with food allergies be cautious of imported products because food labelling regulations vary by country. Help us educate your communities and share this mythbuster with them! Stay tuned for more mythbusters to come.

For more information about “may contain” statements, please visit our food labelling information page

Research: Tweaking immune cells to tackle food allergy Dendritic cells
Image courtesy of AllerGen

Interesting research from AllerGen provides insight into a unique immunotherapy which investigators believe may hold promise for treating food allergy and other immune system disorders. This therapy “uses a type of immune cell called a dendritic cell to reduce the immune response responsible for an allergic reaction.” So far, this research has only been conducted in mice, and a treatment for people with food allergies is likely years away.

AllerGen is a national research network dedicated to improving the quality of life of people with allergic and related immune diseases. Read more.

Peanut oral immunotherapy clinical trial results show effectiveness Image courtesy of Aimmune

Aimmune Therapeutics recently released results from their Phase 3 PALISADE clinical trial for AR101, which is their lead investigational oral immunotherapy drug for peanut allergy.

PALISADE enrolled more than 550 participants ages 4-55 in the U.S., Canada, and Europe. This clinical trial is designed to evaluate the efficacy and safety of AR101 to treat peanut allergy.

The Phase 3 of their PALISADE clinical trials show that the therapy is effective for ages 4-55.

Read more.

New study shows significant psychosocial burden associated with peanut allergy

Learn more about this new European study, led by Aimmune Therapeutics in partnership with European food allergy patient advocacy groups, and health care professionals. The survey results show “that peanut allergy has a daily impact on more than 80% of those children, parents/caregivers and adults, and 40% live with a high level of uncertainty. Additionally, 77% of peanut-allergic individuals have been made to feel different (negatively), and 43% have been affected by bullying.”

The survey also “revealed the increased level of anxiety people affected by peanut allergy experience in situations involving food.”

Read the full press release.

The post Advocacy and research – June 2018 appeared first on Food Allergy Canada.

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For her 7th birthday last month, Jackie Sidel decided to fundraise for Food Allergy Canada (through EchoAge) as a way to support her younger brother, Eli, who has multiple food allergies.

Jackie Sidel (7) at her birthday party.

Jackie understands the impact of managing food allergies on a daily basis. As a protective older sister of her 4-year-old brother, she’s always making sure that his food is safe and ensuring her parents have checked and re-checked ingredients lists.

We spoke to Jackie’s mom, Johanna, about her daughter’s initiative and how food allergy affects their family.

What prompted Jackie to choose Food Allergy Canada as her charity of choice?

It’s important to our family that we teach our children to give back to the community and about social responsibility. When we proposed to Jackie to choose among a short list of charities for her birthday, she immediately chose Food Allergy Canada before we finished the list.

Johanna Miller and son Eli

Jackie is very aware of how food allergy impacts our family and is very proactive about ensuring that there are always snacks available that are safe, not only for her younger brother, but also for her friends, one of which has Celiac disease.

Before her birthday party, Jackie made sure that the food served was safe for Eli and that there would be a safe treat for her friend, as she wouldn’t be able to eat the birthday cake.

Family and friends thought this was a great idea. They really liked the fact that Jackie would get a gift, a pair of inline skates, protective gear and a skateboard, as well as donate to a charity. In the past, we have asked guests to donate to charity in lieu of gifts but guests really like the birthday girl to receive a gift too, so EchoAge was a perfect option.

How does Jackie support her brother, and how does she help him manage his food allergies? Jackie and younger brother Eli (4)

Jackie is our first born and she had a milk allergy as an infant which she outgrew at about 2- years-old so she really doesn’t remember how it affected her. Her experience with managing allergies comes from watching our family manage Eli’s multiple allergies. When Eli was an infant we learned that he was allergic to peanuts, tree nuts, fish, sesame, and egg. He was also allergic to soy and dairy which he has since outgrown.

Jackie sees us reading all food labels, more than once, to ensure that foods are safe and that we limit eating out to a few restaurants that we consider safe. She has also forgone a few snacks she sees her friends eat because they are not safe for Eli. On more than one occasion when there have been unsafe snacks, I’ve heard her tell Eli “Let’s go find something safe to eat” and will then choose to have an alternative snack with him. She chose Food Allergy Canada as her charity because she hopes to live in a future where Eli and our family will not have to check every single food label each time we eat a food and, in her words, “I really miss peanut butter”.

Do you have anything else you would like to add? Johanna and Jackie

We are very proud of Jackie, first for being open to the idea of donating a portion of her gift to a notable charity and second, for choosing something that affects our daily lives. She realizes that she can have a positive impact and change the future. Without knowing it, Jackie has started a trend for our family. May will always be her birthday but it has become the month where we choose to advocate awareness for food allergies moving forward.

Thank you Johanna, Jackie and the Sidel Family for your support! This is a great reminder that you can make an impact and inspire others, no matter how old you are!

Learn how you can support Food Allergy Canada through EchoAge!

The post Ways to give: Making a difference at an early age appeared first on Food Allergy Canada.

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Luke Melendez is only 10 years old, but he’s proving that age is just a number when trying to raise awareness of food allergies.

Allergic to dairy, eggs, peanuts, and tree nuts, Luke ran a booth at his school’s recent Wellness Night in order to create awareness about food allergies.

Luke Melendez

Wellness Night, which mom Sarah Nicholl describes as “a way for families to get active together and learn about healthy, active living,” had about 100 attendees – 50 adults and 50 children. Luke had fun teaching about food allergies “because a lot of people didn’t really know about them at all.”

Luke has been educating others for years as he routinely fields questions about his food allergies throughout his daily life. His efforts go back all the way to kindergarten when he started wearing his epinephrine auto-injector in a waist pack at school.

There’s one answer he thankfully can’t provide with much recollection, “Sometimes they ask me if the EpiPen hurts, because it’s a needle. I don’t really remember (if it hurts), but I don’t remember it hurting that much.”

Not remembering is okay with Luke, though. “I don’t want to remember,” he laughed, “and I don’t want to have another [anaphylactic] reaction!”

Luke wanted to take part in Wellness Night “because I’ve never done it before. It’s usually older kids who do it, so I thought it would be fun.” His brother Connor, 8, was also excited to help with the crafts at the event.

Showing people how to use an EpiPen® was one of the Wellness Night highlights. “I really liked showing people how the EpiPen worked using a trainer pen, because it’s kind of fun to use. A lot of people had never done it before.”

“We had a bunch of trainer EpiPens, and as people came by, [Luke] would say ‘would you like to learn how to use the EpiPen?’ and he showed everybody. Then he got them to use it as well,” Sarah said. “People liked trying the trainer EpiPens.”

“A lot of parents will have kids with food allergies over to their house for playdates, but those parents typically haven’t had the chance to use trainers before. Some of the parents came up to me after, and they said that they’ve been to first aid classes but haven’t actually tried the trainers so they appreciated the practice.”

The booth also featured a game in which people tried to name five of the top priority allergens. “A lot of people tried again and again because they wanted a prize, but most people didn’t get it on the first try,” Luke said. Eventually, contestants started recruiting partners, at which point people started winning prizes with more regularity.

For her part, Sarah feels schools are doing a good job of raising awareness of food allergies in general but thinks the breadth of knowledge could be wider. “There’s a lot of awareness about allergies in the school system, but that’s mostly focused around peanuts and tree nuts, so just getting some awareness around the top priority food allergens would be great.”

In the end, Luke did some learning as well, and what he learned indicates that more events like Wellness Night are sorely needed. “I learned that a lot of people didn’t know much about food allergies.”

Thanks Luke, Sarah, and Connor for doing your part and educating others at Wellness Night!

The post Raising awareness at any age: 10-year-old showcases food allergies at school wellness night appeared first on Food Allergy Canada.

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