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- 1 medium onion, diced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tsp vegetable oil
- About 1 cup chopped carrots
- 1 cup quinoa, rinsed
- 2 cups water or broth
- 3 tsp Moroccan spice mix (recipe below)
- salt and pepper
- 1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
- 1 tbsp lime juice
- ¼ – ½ cup fresh cilantro, chopped
In a medium saucepan, heat the vegetable oil. Add the garlic and onion and sauté for a few minutes. Add the carrot; continue to cook until the onion is soft, a few more minutes.
Add quinoa, water, Moroccan spice mix, salt and pepper. Stir and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat and simmer until the quinoa is cooked and the carrots are tender (15 minutes or so).
Add the chickpeas, stir and simmer for a minute or two until the chickpeas are heated through.
Add lime juice and cilantro. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve hot or cold.
Moroccan Spice Mix
- 4 tsp curry powder
- 3 tsp ground cumin
- 2 tsp coriander
- 1 tsp ground ginger
- 1 tsp dried parsley
- ½ tsp thyme
- ¼ tsp allspice
- ¼ tsp nutmeg (I always grind nutmeg fresh – it’s so much better)
- ¼ tsp cinnamon
- 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
- 1/8 tsp dried mint
- salt and pepper
Mix everything together. Store unused mix in an airtight container. This is a modified version of a spice mix from a recipe by Real Food for Real Kids.
Starting grade one meant sorting through some details that weren’t an issue in kindergarten. Like eating lunch in the lunch room, navigating pizza days and making sure he’s safe on field trips.
It’s gone fairly well. The school administration has been very willing to work with me. Still, there have been a few bumps along the way. I charge ahead, trying to hit the right balance, trying to keep him safe, while managing my own anxiety, trying to make sure he feels included and making his life as normal as I can.
I spend a lot of time thinking about allergies; new recipes and ways to include him in things others take for granted. I try, try, try SO hard to work with the school in a productive and positive way; to present suggestions and solutions instead of simply voicing complaints. I read policies and take action rather than leave it all in someone else’s hand.
For example, I was feeling anxious about the lunch room. My son is allergic to dairy in all forms, eggs, tree nuts and bananas. He is, literally, surrounded by his allergens at lunch time. There are hundreds of kids in the lunchroom and four lunch supervisors. How would the lunch supervisors know what my boy is allergic to? How would they even remember that he is one of the allergy kids? Would they remember what to do if there was an emergency? How could we post his anaphylaxis plan during lunch (the gym is the lunch room)?
I came up with an allergy place mat. I emailed it to my local Staples, had it printed on ledger size paper (11 x 17) in colour, attached a copy of his Emergency Anaphylaxis Plan to the back of it, and had it laminated. It cost me less than $10.
The administration liked the idea so much they had me email them a copy so that they could make one for all the allergy kids.
See? Positive, right? Productive, right? That’s how I roll … or at least, that is my goal. (Sometimes my emotions and anxieties get in the way.)
Despite my efforts and the best intentions of the school, sometimes I feel like we fail my poor allergy boy. Like how a couple of weeks ago, every kid in the class – except my boy and another girl that’s allergic to dairy – got hot chocolate. My boy told me “Everyone had hot chocolate today.” On the inside I momentarily panic, I can feel the anxiety building inside me. “What did you have?” I ask calmly. “I had water” he tells me. And that, right there, is my heart breaking. “When we get home, can I have hot chocolate?” he asks me. “Yes, of course.” I say. Yes, yes, a thousand times, yes.
A week later, I find out 5 minutes before it’s about to happen that the kids are going for a walk to some local shops as they learn about Diwali. They’re going to sample some samosas and treats. (Again: anxiety and fear creep up in me.) I try to be cool, “so, um … what about the allergy kids?” Never mind, they decide not to get the treats after all. And the allergy mum ruins the fun again.
I make phone calls, I send emails. I feel like I am begging … pleading: please, if I just knew ahead of time I could find something safe for him; a way for him to be included in the celebrations involving food – without cancelling everything.
At times this all weighs heavily on me. I get frustrated and discouraged. I just want to cry and stomp my feet and pull him out of school. But ultimately, who would suffer? My poor allergy boy.
Chin up. I tell myself. It’s all worth it. Of course it is. I do it all willingly. I would do all of it and more. What wouldn’t any parent do for the safety and happiness of their kids?
I hope that he never knows, though. The anxiety every time he tells me his doesn’t feel well or his ears are itchy (which, oddly enough, is fairly regularly). The frustration I feel when I run into roadblocks. The time spent reading, knowing allergy policies like the back of my hand; trying new recipes, testing new ingredients, searching the internet for safe recipes; talking to teachers and administration, working through the issues, smoothing over the bumps, making place mats. I hope he never knows how hard it is sometimes.
In a weird kind of way, his allergies have taught us many lessons and introduced us to different things. They are what led us to discover things like vegan orange cake (the BEST cake ever!), dairy-free ice cream cake, coconut milk (yummy, creamy coconut milk) and kettle corn.
Those pain-in-the-ass allergies are helping us teach our kids about acceptance, differences, compassion and responsibility.
The frustrating, anxiety-causing allergies are forcing me to work on my own fears of public speaking, my patience, my ability to work with people and making me tough it out when I just want to run away.
I hope, beyond hope, that my allergy boy grows up feeling normal, loved and included. That he embraces his allergies as a unique and special part of him. That he doesn’t think of his life in terms of things he missed. And I hope that he will one day know how important the lessons are that he helped us learn.
Click on the place mat image to download the word version and make your own. Feel free to share!
- 1/3 cup diary free margarine, melted (I used Earth Balance buttery flavour spread.)
- 1 1/4 cups dairy free baking crumbs (I used Oreo baking crumbs, but any dairy-free cookie crushed up would work. To crush cookies, put them in a Ziploc bag and roll them with a rolling pin.)
- about 4 cups dairy free ice cream (I used So Delicious Vanilla Bean Coconut Milk ice cream.)
- cookies, sprinkles, chocolate chips, etc. to decorate (optional) (I used Oreo cookies)
Let the ice cream sit at room temperature for about 15 – 20 minutes, or until it becomes soft.
Melt the margarine and combine in with cookie crumbs. Press the mixture into a pie plate. Freeze for at least 15 minutes.
Spread about half of the ice cream in the pie plate being careful not to mess up the cookie crumb crust. If you’re using cookies, you can lean them up against the edge of the pie plate all around. You can also sprinkle in some chocolate chips, more cookie crumbs or whatever else you want to use. Freeze for at least 15 minutes.
Scoop on the remaining ice cream and top it with sprinkles, cookies, chocolate chips or whatever else! Freeze until you’re ready to serve.
On Saturday, I went to Anaphylaxis Canada’s annual conference. I came away from it with some new and interesting information, freshly reminded of how serious allergic reactions can be. I fully planned on (and still am) blogging about the conference. I spent the first half of the day thinking about what I’d write on my blog. That conference blog post, however, was pushed aside so that I could write this one.
In a strange bit of irony, the second half of my day was spent administering an EpiPen for the first time in my life, and dealing with the aftermath of an anaphylactic reaction.
First and foremost, let me say that everything is fine. My number 3, five year old son, had an allergic reaction today. He is allergic to dairy, eggs, bananas and tree nuts. He is home now and for the most part, seems relatively unscathed.
The EpiPen did what it was supposed to do. I didn’t wait until he was in respiratory distress and he was conscious and aware of what was going on at all times. The situation was serious, but under control. Paramedics arrived fairly quickly and he was transported to hospital without any trouble.
I’m not even sure what he reacted to. I suspect that he somehow ingested the cow’s milk that his sister was drinking, but I’m not sure. I saved the packaging from everything that I could remember he’d eaten today. Tomorrow I will call all the companies to see if anything he’d eaten could have been cross-contaminated or if there could have possibly been some undeclared allergens present.
Here’s what happened: we were getting ready for lunch. I had it served on plates and we were about to eat. The kids had eaten some marshmallow candies a little earlier, plus they’d had some juice and other snacks. Number 3 first started complaining about his back being itchy. Any time he says he’s itchy, I take note. I checked over his back and didn’t see anything but the slightest bit of redness. I thought it was from him scratching.
He continued to complain of itchiness and I checked his back a few times – not much was there. I checked his mouth and tongue, and it all looked normal. I thought maybe he had some dry skin. After he continued to complain, I suggested we put some cream on his back. The only cream I could find was one scented with lavender essential oil. I worried that it might irritate his skin but it was all that I could find and the itchiness was starting to drive him crazy. He had also been wheezing and coughing a little and so I gave him some ventolin.
He started complaining of his ears being itchy and I started to think that something was going on. At this point his back was quite red and I thought the cream was irritating him. I thought if he had a bath, it might settle the itching down. I really started to think that something wasn’t right so I decided to give him Benadryl just in case. I figured it couldn’t hurt and I thought it might help with whatever was making his back so itchy.
He and Sister happily climbed into the tub and I rinsed his back and tummy to get all the cream off. As I was doing this, I noticed that hives were coming out on his back. And his back was bright red in areas that he couldn’t have possibly reached and scratched. Then he said his throat was itchy. It was at this point that I knew it was an allergic reaction and I knew that it was pretty serious.
Let me pause the story for a minute to tell you what was going through my head. I know that an anaphylactic reaction is a reaction that involves two or more body systems. Anaphylactic reactions are the ones that can be deadly. Once a life threatening allergic reaction starts, there is a point of no return. There is a point at which no amount of epinephrine, steroids, or any treatment can stop a reaction. The key with anaphylaxis is to administer an EpiPen as soon as there are signs of an anaphylactic reaction. When there are anaphylactic deaths, it is usually because an EpiPen was administered too late or not at all.
At the anaphylaxis conference on the weekend I listened to a speaker talk about a study in which severe anaphylactic reactions were studied. In all the cases where there was a death, the EpiPen had either not been administered, or had been administered more than 30 minutes after the onset of symptoms. Cases where people had severe reactions and survived, all had been given the EpiPen within 30 minutes of symptoms. Another thing discussed at the conference is how common it is for people to hesitate giving the EpiPen and other reasons that administration might be delayed.
One final thought that was going through my mind was this: Number 3 had had an anaphylactic reaction once before. He was about two and he’d eaten a handful of banana. He experienced wheezing, sneezing, vomiting and hives. He ended up being okay and it wasn’t until after the fact that we’d realized that it was an anaphylactic reaction and that we should have administered the EpiPen. Mr. FamilyNature and I said that if he ever had a reaction like that again, we would give the EpiPen, without a doubt. We knew that we’d dodged a bullet that day and we were not going to make the same mistake again.
So back to today, I called Mr. FN and told him what was happening. I blurted out that it was two body systems and that I was going to call 911. Mr. FN said he was on his way home. Now even at this point, after all this going through my head, and knowing that I should give the EpiPen, I hesitated. I called 911 first.
Naturally the 911 operator told me I had to give the EpiPen. She said, “Based on what you’ve told me, you have to give him the EpiPen NOW.” She was great; very calm and patient but her voice was firm. I tried to keep my composure as I ran to get an EpiPen out of my purse.
I told Number 3 that I had to give him the EpiPen. I was trying my very best to be calm and strong but I had tears in my eyes and I knew he could hear my voice cracking. He starting whimpering quietly and asked “is it going to hurt?” I told him that it would hurt for a minute but that he needed the medicine.
I put him in my lap and gave him the pen. He screamed. Sister screamed. I was trying to keep it together and keep everyone calm. I held him and rubbed his thigh and told him over and over again that I was sorry. He cried and cried.
After a few minutes the paramedics arrived. By this time the hives were going down (man, that EpiPen works fast!) and he and Sister had calmed down a bit. The paramedics were wonderful; they came in and assessed the situation quickly. He was a bit wheezy but was okay. He was still really scared, shivering (still naked with a towel wrapped around him from the bath) and his leg was sore from the EpiPen.
Mr. FN arrived home a few minutes later and he rode in the ambulance with Number 3 to the hospital.
At the hospital, he was assessed and then kept for about 5 hours. Everyone who talked to Mr. FN told him that we did the right thing. The EpiPen was the right thing to do.
They gave my little boy pediapred (a steroid) and a long-lasting antihistamine. He was released with a prescription for a 4 day course of pediapred and instructions to watch him carefully.
He’s in bed now. We’re all a little shaken, but we’re okay. Stay tuned for more on this and my thoughts on the Anaphylaxis Conference.
Special thanks to everyone who has called, emailed or facebooked me. Your thoughts and kind words mean a lot. xoxo
And you can get your hot little hands on a copy right here from me. Here’s what you do: email me amanda[at]familynature.ca. I can send you a PayPal invoice or you can pay cash in person. I will make arrangements for pick up or drop off in the GTA, or I’ll ship it worldwide for a small shipping fee.
Do you remember Cupcakes for Haiti? Back in January a local mum, Susana Molinolo (@foodplayground), hosted a cupcake sale on her front lawn. Local bakers, including yours truly, donated baked goods – mostly cupcakes. The result? Thanks to word of mouth and social media, Susana and friends raised nearly $12,000. Yes, twelve thousand dollars. Cash.
We all heard about the earthquake in Haiti and saw the devastating images. Not everyone has extra cash to donate, but cupcakes? Anyone can bake some up in a cinch. And who doesn’t love cupcakes. Sparing a twoonie for a cupcake isn’t a hardship.
So we baked, we bought and ate cupcakes, and the community came together to raise money for a worthy cause. What better way to continue those efforts, than a book celebrating that day.
The Cupcakes for Haiti Cookbook is a book full of cupcake recipes, all different flavours and designs. There is my personal favourite: the Brownie Heart Cupcakes (OMG, these are to die for), plus there are recipes from Dufflet, Desmond and Beatrice and Ruby Watchco, a classic 1-2-3-4 Cupcake recipe your grandmother would have used, cupcakes with Dark Chocolate Bailey’s Frosting and even a couple of vegan cupcake recipes (including my go-to and always-a-hit famous vegan orange cupcakes and vegan vanilla icing recipes).
So c’mon, what are you waiting for? Order a book today!
My three – almost four – year old started school this September. Son-S is allergic to dairy, eggs, bananas and tree nuts. The school takes his allergies very seriously; at the beginning of the school year we sat down to work out a plan for Son-S. Despite the fact that I made clear that I did not expect the school to ban all of Son-S’s allergens in the classroom, the school had decided to do so. In addition to his allergens there are several other ones in the class. Parents have been asked not to send any foods that contain the following: dairy, eggs, bananas, tree nuts, peanuts, soy, sesame, flaxseed, kiwi, chicken and bacon.
Part of me wants to run up to the school staff and give everyone a big squeezy hug for taking these allergies so seriously. It really is a crapshoot with schools it seems; some schools are very lax about allergies; sometimes they just don’t seem to get it. So, on the one hand I’m very grateful. On the other hand, I’m not sure this is the way to go. Here’s why I think food bans aren’t necessarily in the everyone’s best interests.
Bans can be Very Limiting
Take for example, my son’s class; the following foods have been banned: dairy, eggs, bananas, tree nuts, peanuts, soy, sesame, flaxseed, kiwi, chicken and bacon. That’s quite a list, isn’t it? It doesn’t leave much except fruits and vegetables and plain bread or crackers. Now I should point out, that this is just a 2 ½ hour program, so we’re just talking about a morning snack here but still, kids can be picky eaters so some families might find this tricky.
Food Bans are Difficult to Enforce
Food Bans are not an easy thing. How does one enforce a food ban? Will someone be checking kids’ snacks? How will anyone know if crackers contain dairy or eggs? How will anyone know if there are ground sesame seeds or flaxseed in bread? Reading labels and avoiding allergens is a challenge even for seasoned allergy parents – I know we’ve made mistakes before. I don’t know if it’s reasonable to expect all parents to be able to do this and there is no real way to enforce it. A reliable food ban is virtually impossible.
They Can Create a False Sense of Security
Food bans can lead to a false sense of security. Since all of the allergens are banned, people let their guards down; they think that they don’t have to worry about food allergies anymore. Wrong. As a parent of an anaphylactic kid, what I think is most important for people to know is how to recognize and treat an anaphylaxis emergency. I think these lose a sense of urgency when allergic foods are banned.
No Anaphylaxis/Allergy Organization Thinks Food Bans are a Good idea
Try to find one Ananphylaxis/Allergy Organization that supports food bans – you won’t be able to (and let me know if you do). I’ve never seen or heard of any organization that suggests or supports food bans. The Anaphylaxis Campaign sums it up nicely:
“Some schools choose to enforce ‘nut bans’, where it is forbidden for any pupil to bring the problem food to school. However, without wishing to undermine the good intentions of any school taking this approach, The Anaphylaxis Campaign believes there are several pitfalls in this approach. It would be impossible to provide an absolute nut-free guarantee so the danger is that allergic children may be led into a false sense of security. There is a strong case for arguing that food-allergic children will gain a better awareness of their allergies, and learn avoidance strategies, if they move in an environment where allergens may turn up unexpectedly.”
See what other organizations have to say:
- Anaphylaxis Canada
- Allergy/Asthma Information Association
- The Ausralasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy
- Allergy Safe Communities
- Allergy New Zealand
When Son-S was at Nursery School, they had the same approach – they banned all the allergens. There were at least a few parents who did not like this. I overheard once, and heard ‘through the grapevine’ about others who couldn’t wait for Son-S to ‘graduate’ from nursery school so that food could go back to “the way it was”. It is a really crappy feeling knowing that people can’t wait until your kid is gone so that they don’t have to deal with their allergies anymore.
Recognizing and Treating Anaphylaxis is Key
While prevention and avoidance strategies are very important, being able to recognize and treat an anaphylactic reaction are essential. Anaphylaxis is treatable and deaths are preventable. Nobody can guarantee an “allergen-free” environment therefore we must work to educate our communities so that in the event of an emergency action can be taken and lives can be saved.
Hello faithful readers. I’m still here. Back to school, a new school and the usual busy-ness of our lives have kept me from my blog.
I have a few half-written posts: why I don’t believe in food bans, my kids’ new school and our mini vacation are all in the works.
Getting back into the swing of things has been slow this year, I’m not sure why. I do like back to school though. A little bit of routine is a good thing for us, I think. Not that I don’t like summer mind you. I hear a lot of parents complaining about summer but I like hanging out with the kids. I love the lazy days of summer. I love not having to be anywhere at a certain time. But school is good too. It gets us all up, out of bed and dressed early and I generally feel much more productive during the school year.
So lately it’s been back to school: allergy forms, other school forms, teacher meetings, getting everyone settled, making lunches, organizing back-packs, water bottles – the usual things. It’s also been sleepless nights with a very out-of-sorts toddler and the ins and outs of a new school.
I’m not complaining, I’m just sayin’. This is the way things have been lately. We’re all adjusting and doing well. I could do with a bit more sleep though … I should probably start a post on that too.
Stay tuned friends, I’m still here and there’s more to come.
I love a nice chunky guacamole; tomato, avocado, cilantro and lots of lime, but the kids – not so much. Anything chunky is no good in their books. So, when I’m making things like soups and pasta sauces I often puree them to ‘hide’ what’s inside – a trick I’m sure many parents use. I do this with guacamole too.
This guacamole is great with chips but it’s also great as a dip (for veggies, crackers, or whatever!) and it makes a really nice spread on sandwiches; a great vegan alternative to mayonnaise. It’s has been a favourite around here lately:
- Two or three avocados, skins and pits removed.
- Some freshly squeezed lime – I usually start with half a lime and then add more if needed. I love lots of lime!
- A handful of fresh cilantro leaves – this is a ‘must have’ ingredient for me, cilantro can make or break it!
- One or two cloves of fresh garlic, peeled.
- Half an onion.
- A pinch of cumin.
- Salt and pepper.
Throw everything in a bowl, no chopping required:
Use a hand mixer to puree everything:
Until it’s nice and smooth:
(Alternatively, you can also use a food processor if you don’t have a hand mixer. But if you don’t have one, think about getting one! This is probably one of my most well used kitchen appliance coming second only to the toaster oven. Mine is very basic; it doesn’t have any of the nifty attachments shown in the link, and it was very inexpensive. AND it cleans up in a snap; it comes apart and the mixer part goes right into the dishwasher.)
Last week I took Son-S to the allergist. The allergist did a skin test for his usually allergens: dairy, eggs, bananas, walnuts, and pecans, plus she also tested for dust and some moulds. The following day I took Son-S to have blood drawn so that a CAP RAST allergy test could be done. He’s never had a CAP RAST test done so I’m very curious to see what his IgE levels are.
As far as Son-S’s egg allergy goes, he’s never had a severe reaction. He has tolerated a bit of egg in baked goods before but we thought that it might be causing some eczema so we had been avoiding it altogether. Since the chances of outgrowing an egg allergy are pretty good (our allergist told us that 80-90 % grow out of it) and he’s never had a severe reaction to egg, we’ve been told to slowly introduce egg into his diet.
Eggs in baked goods are the way to start introducing them because (a) one egg in a batch of cookies isn’t very much egg – not like having a fried egg and (b) because when an egg is cooked one of the two allergic components is considerably modified by heat such that it can be tolerated by some people.
So the day after Son-S had his skin test, the same day I took him for the blood test, I baked cookies with an egg. I made Peanut Butter cookies, much like the ones I tried to make here, but this time I used an egg (and the cookies turned out much better!). It is the recipe straight of the back of the Kraft Peanut Butter jar:
- 1 cup peanut butter
- ½ cup sugar
- 1 egg
Mix until well-blended. Roll into 24 balls, press down with a fork. Bake 15 minutes in oven preheated to 325° on an ungreased baking sheet.
I made a couple of small cookies and Son-S was dying to try them. He watched me make them so he knew there was an egg in them; which I realize now probably wasn’t the best idea. Anyway, he had a small cookie and seemed perfectly fine. He had another little piece of a cookie a little while later. He seemed fine.
Later that afternoon we went up to the hospital so that they could draw blood for the CAP RAST test. Just before we left Son-S started complaining of a sore tummy. Uh oh. I check him out all over. There were no hives, no rash, no redness, nothing. But he kept complaining about his tummy. The whole drive there the poor boy was whining and complaining about his sore tummy. I started to feel really bad…what was I thinking? Why did I give him so much? I should have waited for a day that we were going to be home all day. I should have given him just a tiny piece of cookie…maybe I shouldn’t have done it at all…oh, the guilt. At one point when we were in the van Son-S whined to me “I don’t ever want to eat that again!” That put me over the edge. I was bawling! “Oh honey, you don’t have to eat it anymore,” I cried. Oh, the guilt.
Son-S complained on and off about his tummy for the next few hours. He had the blood drawn and we went home.
The funny thing is, my tummy hadn’t been feeling all that well. It wasn’t that bad, it was subtle really. I was so wrapped up in keeping an eye on Son-S and the guilt I was feeling that I barely noticed. Later on that day Baby-M (who’d also had a cookie or two) had a really gross diaper – I’ll spare you the gory details but let’s just say it was out of the ordinary. Baby-M clearly had some tummy upset too.
And then I started thinking…hmmm. That’s a funny coincidence. Uuuh…wait a second. I wonder how old those eggs were. We rarely use eggs and I’d used the last egg in the carton, so I started thinking that they might have been in the fridge for a while. I went and dug out the empty egg carton from the recycling. The best before date stamped on the egg carton was May 25th! AAAK! No wonder! Later that day when my husband came home I told him the whole story. Not wanting to take my word for it he insisted on trying a cookie for himself. Sure enough, a short time later his tummy wasn’t feeling so well.
A couple of days later, with a fresh batch of eggs, I made the cookies again. Not surprisingly Son-S wouldn’t go near them. I don’t blame him at all. I guess we’ve scared him to death about his allergies. The poor kid.
I’ll have to find something else to sneak an egg into and try again.
Sabrina Shannon. Do you know who she is? I do. Sometimes I wish that I didn’t. Sometimes I wish that she was just a normal kid, living a normal life that nobody knows. Unfortunately she’s not; Sabrina Shannon is the girl for whom Sabrina’s Law, Bill 3, is named.
Sabrina Shannon died on September 30, 2003 at the age of 13 as a result of an allergic reaction to food. She went into anaphylactic shock and her brain was deprived of oxygen for too long. She died the day after she ate food in her high school cafeteria that, because of cross-contamination, had traces of dairy in it.
Sara Shannon, Sabrina’s mum, made a promise to her daughter that day. She promised that she would do whatever she could to prevent this from happening to another family. Sara has stayed true to her word. With the help and support of Sara Shannon, on May 16, 2005, Bill 3 was passed unanimously. The first of its kind in North America, Sabrina’s Law is an Act to help protect anaphylactic students. It requires schools to have an anaphylaxis plan which includes: strategies to reduce the risk of exposure to allergens, a communication plan for parents, staff and the community, regular anaphylaxis training for staff, an individual plan for each anaphylactic student and more. The law took effect January 1, 2006.
I am amazed and inspired by this story. Sara Shannon’s motivation and commitment to this cause is astounding. That in the face of such a heart wrenching tragedy, Sara worked to help other families is truly awesome.
Anyone who reads my blog regularly knows that this is a topic that is close to my heart. Son-F grew out of peanut allergy and Son-S is allergic to dairy, eggs, bananas and tree nuts. As I prepared to register Son-S for School in September I was so grateful to Sara and Sabrina and all the others who helped Bill 3 pass into law. I felt so lucky to live in the province of Ontario where we have this law to protect anaphylactic children. It didn’t take long for those feelings to turn to frustration, anger, and shock.
It turns out that Bill 3, Sabrina’s Law, is only being applied half-heartedly at the school and Board that we belong to. It seems that the law – and yes, it is a law – is being misunderstood, misinterpreted or ignored.
After much discussion and much back and forth, the principal at my kids’ school is willing to do whatever can be done to make me happy, and to keep my son safe at school. For this I am very grateful. But the principal and school administration are doing it because they know it is important to me – not because they think they have to.
For those that have been wondering about my status updates on Twitter and Facebook this is what has been bothering me. This is what is keeping me up at night; this is what is eating me up inside; this is what I’ve been dreaming about. Not everyone will get it, not everyone will think it’s a big deal but for me, it is consuming. People have been telling me just to keep my head down; to be happy that my kid is getting what the law says he deserves and forget about everyone else. I just can’t do it.
The questions keeping me up at night are these: I am happy with what my kids’ school is doing to help keep my son safe at school…but what about all the other schools in this district that are not doing what they’re supposed to do? What about protecting those kids? What would Sara Shannon think if she knew that law she worked so hard to help enact, was not being followed? What would Sabrina think?
It is shameful; disrespectful to Sara’s efforts and an insult to Sabrina’s memory. I am not okay with this and I just can’t let it go.
I will contact the Board. I will ask questions. I will file a complaint. I will contact my MPP. I will do whatever I can to make sure that schools in my Board are compliant with Bill 3. I owe this to my anaphylactic son; I owe it to other kids with anaphylaxis; I owe it to Sara Shannon and most of all, I owe it to Sabrina.