Allergy/Asthma Information Association

Allergy-Aware Communities

YOU can make a difference!

by Cindy Paskey, St. Catharines, ON

b! aware    b! informed    b! safe

An active advocate and educator for anaphylaxis awareness, Cindy Paskey’s message is that risk reduction and emergency preparedness are necessary for allergic people to b! safe. Visit Next link will open in a new windowwww.b-online.ca, Niagara’s premier website for individuals and families living with life threatening allergies.

By now, it should be clear to everyone that the prevalence of allergic conditions, including asthma and anaphylaxis has increased over the past decade. We know that milk and egg are the most common food allergies in young children, followed by peanut and nut allergies. While some studies estimate 20% of children will outgrow peanut/nut allergies, it remains a lifelong condition for the remaining 80%. Milk and egg allergies can also be lifelong.

When you are living with life threatening allergies, staying safe is an everyday priority. Though it’s hard to imagine a silver lining, we have the opportunity to join together and to gain strength in our numbers. Through our collective voices, we can pave the way, making the world safer for current and future children, teens and young adults at risk of anaphylaxis. How? A good place to start is by forming or joining a ‘support group’ in your own community.

“Our best learning comes from each other.” Support groups provide a vehicle for families to share information and to create positive changes in their communities.

I speak from experience. For 10 years, I have belonged to NASK – Niagara Anaphylaxis Support and Knowledge, as well as to AAIA and Anaphylaxis Canada. Individually, and together, these groups and many others have put anaphylaxis awareness in Canada ‘on the map’, so to speak. Working separately, this might be impossible. Working together, we’ve been successful at lobbying for positive changes in Canada. Sabrina’s Law exists in Ontario, and strong efforts are underway for similar legislation in Alberta and British Columbia. In Quebec, the AQAA recently launched the Certified Allergen Control program – Next link will open in a new windowwww.certification-allergies.com. Together, much can be accomplished!

Whether you already belong to a group, or you are thinking to establish one in your community, here are some ideas:

Here are some ‘lessons learned’:

Support groups are a way to make a positive difference for everyone living with allergies. Every journey begins with a first step. Sabrina’s Law in Ontario demonstrates the power of working together. Quoting Margaret Mead: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”

from Allergy & Asthma News, Issue 2 2006

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