Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Food Allergy "Education" in Schools

Hi all! So...tomorrow I will be meeting with school officials for the third time this year to review my daughter's 504 Plan. We are meeting for the third time in one month (more than we typically meet over the course of a year) to discuss something I'm sad to say I have never questioned before: the specific "education" that is being provided to teachers regarding food allergies.

To make a long story short, I realized this year that the "education of teachers" as outlined in my daughter's 504 essentially involves a 10-minute lesson on how to administer an Epi-Pen. That's it. That's all. And that's sooooo clearly not enough.

Even though my daughter is in 4th grade now, it seems like each year I think of something new I should have asked about, or been more diligent about. I'm so sorry I never thought to be specific about the actual content of the educational tools being used (or not used as it seems.)  It's so hard to anticipate every possible scenario that could be dangerous, and quite frankly, that's a scary place for most food allergy parents to go.

The National School Board Association makes it a little easier, with this great Food Allergy Resource Guide I recently found on their web site. The checklist in the back is one of the best I've ever seen. l love how it not only outlines items that should be "included" in the plan, but also distinguishes as to whether they are actually "implemented" or not. I know of many schools that have great food allergy guidelines on paper, but less-than-great follow through in adhering to the policies.

For schools that could still use a little help, Mylan has launched a new campaign that runs through November 9, 2012. "Get Schooled in Anaphylaxis" is a nationwide college scholarship opportunity aimed to help schools become more aware of and better prepared to support students with life-threatening allergies. By gathering great ideas from students, they hope to make our schools a safer environment for everyone! Kids grades 1 thru 12 have a chance to win one of several $2,000 college scholarships and best of all, promote greater awareness of food allergies in our schools.

Do you know of a school that does a great job of educating their teachers and the community at large about food allergies? If so, I would love to hear about it. What types of resources, curriculum, and training procedures are they using? With any luck, my school district will be implementing something similar in the days and years to come. Fingers crossed ...

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Ebook Awesomeness

Two years ago my husband bought me a Nook Color for Christmas. I must admit, it took me awhile to figure out all of its bells and whistles. I downloaded a few novels and children’s books at first, but still resorted to my standby paperbacks, especially during beach and bathtime reading. (E-reader + water and/or sand = bad idea.)

Then one year ago, my Dad bought my kids each a Kindle Fire for Christmas. Let’s just say, it did not take them awhile to figure out all of its bells and whistles. They LOVE their Kindles and not just for games and movies, but for (who knew?) READING BOOKS. Narrated and/or interactive ebooks & apps are especially great for my 6-year-old, who enjoys a good story, but is not yet a strong, fluent reader.

Forbes magazine recently published an article that supports the consumer activity occurring in our home as of late, reporting that ebook purchases continue to outnumber traditional print. And while I will personally always prefer hard cover picture books to their electronic counterparts, I strongly believe there is a place for both. (Especially on vacation, where I recently downloaded five lengthy novels that required a miniscule amount of space in my suitcase.)

In light of this growing new trend, I am extremely excited to be bringing The BugaBees to the eUniverse very soon! We have been working hard to bring Cricket and the gang to life for both iPad and Android users alike. Traditional ebook and interactive apps based on the book are now in production which means a downloadable version of The BugaBees is in your near future. My kids love the beta (and not just because their cute little voices are part of the narration!) I hope yours will love the app too. Stay tuned for when it becomes available!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Food Allergy Awareness Week Book Giveaway

What better way to spread a little awareness than to read a copy of the new "BugyBops: Friends for All Time" this week ?!? I've already shared this story with my son's Kindergarten class, as well as a group of families (not all of them familiar with food allergies) at our big book launch on May 12th. I love it when I can see the wheels turning in their heads or when they say to me "I never knew that!"

Now it's your turn to share some know-how. Join in on our Book-A-Day-Giveaway for food allergy awareness by simply answering the following question:

What are you doing to help promote food allergy awareness this week?

Please comment to win a free copy of “The BugyBops: Friends for All Time”. Double or triple your chances by sharing on Facebook or tweeting on Twitter the following statement:

Win a copy of “The BugaBees” #book sequel “The BugyBops: Friends for All Time” by @AmyRecob #FAAW #foodallergies 

Winners selected daily!

Sunday's Winner: Jeanette - Mom to Allergy Kid
Monday's Winner:  Linda Trinklein
Tuesday's Winner: hsw
Wednesday's Winner: Paulette M.L. Ricardo
Thursday's Winner: Alicia
Friday's Winner: Jacque Kunin 
Saturday's Winner: ERIKAANN

If you see your name posted, please contact me at amyrecob@gmail.com to redeem your prize!

Important note to this week’s past participants: We love our social media partners for promoting this contest, but have run into a little snafu with posting links! Instead of linking new entries to the current “Question of the Day” it seems that many people are coming to this first kick-off post only.

To make things easy, we are modifying the contest to simply include this one post. You may continue to make comments daily and earn extra entries for posting on FaceBook and Twitter. Many apologies for the confusion! Please know that even though your Monday and Tuesday posts don’t appear here, they have been duly noted and entered in the drawing at www.random.org!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

The Book-A-Day Giveaway Contest is Coming!

In honor of Food Allergy Awareness Week, a winner will be selected each day starting May 13 thru May 19th to receive a free copy of the newly released children's book: The BugyBops: Friends for All Time!

To participate, stop back regularly and post a comment right here on this blog to each Question of the Day. To double and triple your points, tweet and/or share the following comment on Twitter or Facebook:

Win a copy of "The BugaBees" #book sequel: "The BugyBops: Friends for All Time" by @AmyRecob #FAAW #foodallergy thebugabees.blogspot.com

Good luck and thanks for doing your part to create a little buzz about food allergy awareness!

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Listen to Your Mother!

If you have not yet heard of the Mother's Day Phenomenon that is sweeping the nation, please allow me to enlighten you! For the past two years, women in select cities around the U.S. have been celebrating Mother’s Day by heading to the theater with local writers to share the joys, trials, and occasional absurdities of motherhood at Listen To Your Mother shows. If you have not yet been to a LTYM show, I promise, you will not want to miss out on another year of this inspiring series. 

Created by incredibly smart and talented friend, Ann Imig, LTYM has expanded performances to 10 cities across the country this year! As part of the cast in 2010, and part of the audience in 2011, I can personally guarantee that any level of participation in these shows will leave you uplifted, heart-broken, giddy, grateful and forever changed by the stories you hear. Best of all, a portion of the proceeds from all 10 productions go to local charitable causes that support mothers and families. What more can I say? It's brilliant.

Tickets are selling out so do not delay! I will be the first in line to the Madison show on May 13th.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Cool Book Trailers

It was an amazing day at the Annual Writers' Institute at UW-Madison! I thoroughly enjoyed signing books, attending workshops, and meeting other authors this weekend where I was introduced to (among many things) the super cool concept of creating a book trailer. Of course, this form of marketing makes a lot of sense, and thanks to Youtube, Vimeo and other online platforms, you don't need to spend thousands of dollars in air time for these mini commercials to promote your book.

If you want to get really fancy though, you could easily spend that in pure production costs, which what some of these authors (and one book council) decided to do for our enjoyment. Check these out with many thanks to writer and producer Susan Reetz for bringing these to our attention! My top three favorites are:

Blueberry Girl by Neil Gaiman

New Zealand Book Council promo (pardon the distracting political ad beforehand - just skip it if you can!)

While it's probably difficult to accurately measure the full return on investment for these trailers, I can verify through my own personal focus group (involving one person, that being me), I find them to be highly effective and inspiring. I do believe I will be purchasing copies of both of these books at my earliest convenience. And who knows, maybe a trip to New Zealand is in my future too!

Have you seen any interesting book promos or trailers online? If so, please do share.

Friday, April 13, 2012

At long last -- the sequel to "The BugaBees: Friends with Food Allergies" is finally in production!

"The BugyBops: Friends for All Time" is dedicated to my youngest child, Max, and all the wonderful kids like him who do not have food allergies themselves, but try to help make life just a little bit easier for those who do.

From washing hands to reading labels, BugyBops show how a few simple steps can help prevent serious allergic reactions to foods like peanuts, tree nuts, fish, shellfish, milk, soy, eggs, and wheat. With more amazing illustrations from 64 Colors, this next book in the BugaBees series also introduces young readers to important concepts related to cross-contamination, Epipens, and the physical signs of an allergic reaction. Follow the BugyBops to learn how their kindness and compassion help their friends with food allergies stay safe, happy, and healthy.

Books will be available just in time for Food Allergy Awareness Week 2012 (May 13-19). Pre-order your copy today at www.BeaversPondBooks.com or look for ways to win online in the the coming weeks!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Heartache + Hope

This Valentine's Day, I'm hugging my kids a little tighter as my heart goes out to the family of Ammaria Johnson who died earlier this year from an allergic reaction to peanuts. While it's been just a few short months since her death, I remain hopeful that this tragic event has sparked a movement to provide more protection for the millions of kids just like her.

Since today is all about love, I'm sending out a special dose to the parents of Ammaria, and the friends and families of other young lives lost to food allergies, such as Katelyn Carlson, Megan Ayotte Lefort, and Sabrina Shannon. While the heartache of their loss remains, the hope they continue to give to the world lives on.

Wishing you all a safe and happy Valentine's Day....

If you haven't already done so, please sign the petition at www.change.org to support legislation requiring all schools to stock life-saving EpiPens. You can help make a difference!