Forming an Allergy Support Group Within a School

By Heather Legg

I started a series last week in regards to a mom asking how best to start an awareness/educational program at her child’s school. I hope this all helps because it really is important to get the education out there, especially in the elementary schools. Over the past years, it has greatly improved, but when it comes to safety, it does not hurt to insist on a few things and most of all, it is about empowerment. Just like schools help instill the responsibility we are all working on at home with our kids, it is another place to help empower them about their allergies. We won’t always be there to watch over, and work places will not be as allergy safe as schools. But it is a great learning place, and we as parents can help make it the most efficient and safe one it can be.

When working towards an allergy awareness program in your school, numbers always help. I mentioned in the earlier piece that it helps to have an in house ally, and it also helps to have numbers on your side, as in other families. You can get a support group going, and this will not only help in the school itself, but also for your family.

One way to get this going is to advertise it in your school newsletter. Most schools have a weekly eblast or some sort of communication to the parents. Go through either the school nurse or the PTA to get a blurb out about forming a support group. This can go under a PTA sub committee (maybe you are willing to chair it) and you can meet at school. Check with the school otherwise, some are more strict than others about having local meetings take place there. If your school won’t allow it, go off site. At least you can brainstorm how to get into the schools.

With a support group, you have back up. When you are ready to go into the school to give talks and presentations, you have help. Whether it is to the teachers or other parents, even in the classrooms to the kids, the more experiences, the better. It also is beneficial to have the wisdom from the different allergies; those with peanut allergies need different advice and restrictions than those with milk allergies.

Hopefully your school will back you in getting started, if not, at least they should listen when you are ready to share information. If nothing else, you will have a good core group to support each other. Again, the PTA is a great place to start. It has the credibility already in the school, and there is a national committee called Health and Wellness which allergies can fall under. The school nurse should also be a person who can help you.

Start here and the road is just beginning. You are on the right path.

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