My husband and I have been married for 14 years. We live in the Ivoryton section of Essex, CT. We have 3 kids; Chloe age 9, Hayden age 7 and Daphne age 4. Hayden is the only one of our children with food allergies. We’re a very active family. We love to hike and fish. In the summer we take lots of day trips to zoos, museums, beaches and parks. We love to vacation in Disney World.
The inspiration for this video was the custom photo book I have been reading to Hayden’s class every year since he started school. The voice-over was scripted by my brother based off of the book. The message we hope to share with other kids is that food allergic children are normal kids who have to take simple precautions to keep safe.
We would be honored to see this video shared in elementary schools. We kept the video fairly generic so that it would apply to most, if not all students who manage food allergies. We don’t mention how severe or how minor a reaction can be. We only mention that it could make someone sick. In my experience, Hayden’s allergies at school have been very well received by his peers but I do worry that there are children who will keep their distance because they are scared they’ll make him sick or because he has a condition that makes him a little different. When I have shared the photo book in the past I felt that it took the mystery out of medications and none of the children questioned why they are washing their hands again (and again!) I have heard from parents of Hayden’s classmates that their children have reprimanded them for packing a snack that wasn’t safe for the classroom. I’ve heard that their children have wondered aloud at the dinner table if something was safe for Hayden to eat. Its aways great to hear that the children really absorb and feel compassion for this condition.Part of the message is that classmates should tell a grown up if Hayden feels sick. I think children at this age LOVE to be given a special job and they take is seriously. During my presentation to the class I also pass around trainer Epipens (this year we’ll share the new Auvi-Q as well) so the children feel important, involved and are not afraid of the medication. At the end of the school year I follow up with PAL awards and PAL pencils for each classmate to thank them for their vigilance and Protecting A Life (part of FAREs program online).
What has been the response?
We’ve had over 550 views on our video in 3 days. I’ve received praise from doctors and numerous teachers. It’s a wonderful feeling to think that this will not only help my son and his peers but that it could help others as well. The videographer that volunteered his time to film this video said he was happy to take part in a project with a positive message.
From a mothers perspective its a great keepsake of my family at this point in our life. I am lucky enough to have a brother who is involved in the film industry as a hobby who was excited to take this project on. After he had written the script we spent five hours filming and I’m sure he spent MANY hours editing. Filming with kids produces MANY bloopers. I feel confident that we were sending a positive message and I think if others can do that it would be great!
Think broadly if you want to help others. Hayden avoids about 20 foods but we don’t mention those in the video. Not only would it limit our audience but its irrelevant to my sons’ classmates. (And there’s always my hope that he’ll outgrow one of his allergens before he outgrows the video!)
I’d love to see more positive messages about food allergies. One of my pet peeves is when I hear people say their children ‘suffer’ from food allergies. My son does not suffer. My son ‘manages’ food allergies. Does he have times of disappointment? Sure. But EVERY child has times of disappointment. Is he physically uncomfortable because of his allergies? Sometimes. But we all have times like that. That’s just life and this is the challenge we’ve been given. And it’s okay. Sometimes it’s hard but most of the time it’s okay.