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Empowered by Food Allergy Symposium: Ellie’s story
Food allergies have been a growing concern for many years. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), food allergies amongst children has increased by 50 percent between 1997 and 2011. About 1 in 13 children have a food allergy. That is roughly two kids in each classroom.
Many food-allergic kids and individuals can tell you how having an allergy has negatively impacted their lives and resulted in their exclusion from everyday activities that most take for granted (going to restaurants, sleepovers, eating with friends, etc.). You would never think having food allergies could be empowering.
However, a patient at Texas Children’s was empowered to make a difference after attending multiple Food Allergy Family Network events and last year’s Food Allergy Symposium.
My experience with food allergies has been somewhat strange. I have been living with it probably since I was born, but throughout it I’ve learned to manage. I am allergic to peanuts, tree nuts, dairy, soy, coconut and sesame. I heard about last year’s symposium through my parents. It was fun and educational. I also enjoyed getting to be around and connect with others who have the same experiences as me. I am excited to go to this year’s symposium and can’t wait! I would recommend parents and food-allergic kids come – it will be fun and educational.
Margot (Ellie’s mother)
When Ellie was very young, eating "food from home" was just something she did. As she grew older and entered the upper elementary grades, she grew more aware that her anaphylactic allergies made her different – and of the potential severe consequences of exposure to her allergens. Unfortunately, so did her classmates, and a stressful year of exclusion and bullying ensued. For her and for us, the symposium was a breath of fresh air. She met other allergic tweens and teens, and she discovered that nearly every one of them had experienced the same things. Seeing herself as one of the gang was empowering. The Symposium's educational components – about living with food allergies – gave her some specific tools. After the symposium, Ellie set her mind to doing something about food-allergy bullying. She created food allergy specific posters as part of a school project, which she hopes to continue, with the aim of getting these posters to schools to help reduce bullying for other kids with food allergies.
Texas Children’s 4th Annual Food Allergy Symposium
This year, Texas Children’s Food Allergy Program will host our annual symposium on Sept. 16, from 9 a.m. to noon. Particularly aimed at parents of children who have food allergies and individuals with food allergies (7+), our plenary session’s speaker, Dr. Suzanne Mouton-Odum, will be discussing helping your child cope with anxiety associated with food allergies.
Our breakout sessions will include the topics:
- Food allergy 101 and treatment of anaphylaxis
- Food allergy research updates
- Dietary tips for food-allergic families
- Advocacy for food allergic children and legal issues related to schools
- Children’s session: Share, prepare and bring awareness on food allergies