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07 Feb, Tuesday
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Montreal Families

New ways to protect kids with allergies

When 5-year-old Wellesley McDonald heads off to school, a birthday party or even a field trip, she always has two things with her: an auto-injector called an Epipen and a temporary tattoo. The young girl has a severe peanut allergy so her injector contains medicine — epinephrine — that will help save her life if she has a reaction from eating anything containing even a trace of peanuts.

But the tattoo provides another level of security. It was created by Wellesley’s mom, Tara Wilkie, and features a scared-looking peanut along with a red warning sign around it stating “No Nuts” in both English and French (seen above).

Wilkie created the tattoo because she was worried about her daughter’s safety, especially around people unfamiliar with food allergies. During a conversation with a family member, Wilkie hit on the idea of a fun, temporary peanut allergy tattoo. “My goal is to make sure all kids are safe and that they have fun wearing the tattoos,” she says.

The temporary tattoos can be purchased online at www.allergytattoos.com. Packages of 10 tattoos cost $9.95 plus shipping and handling. Even though the tattoo is made to last up to five days, Tara suggests changing it every couple of days to make sure it is visible. The tattoos are also available at local stores LMNOP, Art-Enfant and Kidlink.

BuddyBandz bracelets & T-shirts

Buddybandz BraceletLisa Sanderson, a mom from Ste. Agathe des Monts, was also worried about her two children who suffered from food allergies. After her 2-year-old was offered a candy containing peanuts (luckily he didn’t eat it), Sanderson decided to create a bracelet with a bright, easy-to-read symbol letting people know what foods had to be avoided. Calling her company BuddyBandz, she created a series of bracelets for different allergies — peanuts, eggs, shellfish and dairy — that are safe for toddlers and babies to wear, easy-to-wash and quick to dry if a child wears one while swimming. She also created a line of T-shirts that declare the child to be a “dairy-free kid,” for example (there are shirts for the same four allergens as the bracelets). Buddy Bandz products can be purchased online at www.buddybandz.com. Bracelets cost $12.99 and T-shirts are $18.99. Shipping charges are extra.

Website geared to teens

Being a teen isn’t easy but for adolescents with severe food allergies, in fact the challenges are even greater. They must learn how to tell friends (or even a date) about their condition. They may have to find a way to discreetly carry medication such as an Epipen. And even going out for a quick snack might be impossible if there is no “safe” food for them.

To help teens and their families navigate this period in a safe way, Anaphylaxis Canada, a non-profit group working to educate people about severe allergies, has come up with a new, interactive website called Why Risk It? at www.whyriskit.ca.

The site features articles on how teens can handle situations such as eating out, travelling and being at high school. Much of the advice comes directly from teens who are living with allergies. There’s even a section on the site where teens can share their stories of having a severe reaction and how they handled this scary situation.

The site is a valuable resource for young people who may feel shy, embarrassed or even angry that they have to deal with life-threatening allergies. The advice is timely and the tone is likely to encourage teens to think about how they can protect their health.

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