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 ...