Monday, August 26, 2013

Food Allergy Classroom Presentation

By Kelley Lindberg


As each new school year starts, I often recommend to parents of children with food allergies that a good way to enlist support (rather than misunderstandings or even bullying) from both classmates and teachers is to offer to come in and give a presentation to the class about food allergies.

I have found that kids can be the best champions. When they feel like they’re part of something important, they rise to the occasion. They also have better memories than we adults do, so often kids will remind teachers when something in class isn’t safe for their food-allergic friend.

So, with the new school year upon us again, I thought I’d offer my presentation outline and notes, in case you’d like to give a food allergy presentation to your child’s class and aren’t sure where to start. My presentations usually last about 20 minutes.

There are also videos available that explain food allergies to school-age children, so if you’re more comfortable showing a video, by all means try that! If you have a favorite video, tell us about it in the Comments section. Thanks, and good luck!

All About Food Allergies Class Presentation

Who knows what a food allergy is?
I let kids raise hands and see if any know. Often they do. I then point out how a true food allergy is different from lactose intolerance and from hay fever or pet allergies.

Who knows someone with a food allergy?
Let a few of them tell you who they know who’s allergic. Usually, about a third of the class knows someone with a food allergy. This helps the teacher realize how widespread it is, and makes the food-allergic child feel less “alone.” Then I remind them that they ALL know someone with a food allergy, and I introduce my kid and tell what he’s allergic to.

This is what a food allergy can do to you if you touch or eat the food:
  1. Tingling sensation, itching, or metallic taste in the mouth
  2. Hives
  3. Sensation of warmth
  4. Itching
  5. Difficulty breathing or wheezing (like asthma)
  6. Swelling of the mouth or throat
  7. Vomiting
  8. Diarrhea
  9. Cramping
  10. Drop in blood pressure
  11. Loss of consciousness
Can you catch a food allergy?
     No! It’s not contagious.

Here’s what to do if someone is having a reaction:
  1. It’s an emergency!
  2. RUN to a grownup, teacher, or recess monitor and tell them it’s an allergic reaction.
  3. Call 911.
Here’s how to keep your friend safe:
  1. Wash hands and face after eating.
  2. Don’t bring food to the classroom or the playground. Keep all food in the cafeteria.
  3. Keep your lunch area neat. Don’t spill or throw food!
  4. Tell a teacher if you see food where it shouldn’t be.
  5. Tell a teacher if you think your friend is getting sick.
  6. Respect the food allergy table.
  7. If you’re bringing treats for a party or your birthday, ask your parents to bring safe treats or non-food party favors (pencils, notepads, tattoos, erasers, balls, etc.).
Note: I always take enough trinkets – fun erasers, PAL pencils or bracelets from FARE, etc. – for the whole class. Then at the end I ask a few questions (“Who remembers one way to keep your allergic friend safe?,” or "Who remembers what Junior is allergic to?") and give a prize to anyone with the right answer. Then the last question is “Who’s going to keep your allergic friends safe?” They all yell “Me!” and I give EVERYONE a prize who hasn’t already gotten one.

 

3 comments:

Daniella Knell said...

Kelley.. this is a great resource! Thanks for sharing.. just posted on my FB page and personal page!

Kamaile said...

Where do you get the FARE and PAL items to give for prizes at the end?

Kelley J. P. Lindberg said...

FARE has an online store where you can get things like those silicon bracelets, training materials, etc. Check out their store at http://store.foodallergy.org/