Lighting it Teal for Food Allergies
The Light it Teal organization lights up buildings in teal to raise awareness of the global food allergy epidemic. Find out why...
Stephanie Lowe, Founder of Light it Teal (formerly Turn it Teal) lights up the world in teal to call attention to the global food allergy epidemic and raise awareness for food allergies. What inspires Lowe to light up monuments, buildings, bridges and natural wonders in glowing teal? Allergy Force wanted to find out.
Lowe’s food allergy journey came out of necessity when her oldest child was diagnosed at one with multiple food allergies. Lowe recounts, “As a baby, our son was never a good sleeper, and he had “baby acne” and several other issues we now know were most likely connected to food allergies.” Just as her son approached his 1st birthday, she introduced dairy which immediately caused issues. “After the dairy experience, we had a replay with eggs a few days later, and it was even worse,” remembers Lowe. A call to the pediatrician yielded an auto-injector prescription and an allergist referral.
About 6 years ago Lowe was driving across her hometown, Cleveland, and saw a prominent landmark alight in purple. It caught her eye and curious, she went online and found that purple was for epilepsy awareness. The wheels started turning. She thought, “Maybe we can light up the building with food allergy teal? It wouldn’t hurt to submit an application.” So, she did.
Several weeks later the building’s management came back with a yes! “I was so happy,” Lowe recalls.
"If just one person looks online to see why buildings turn teal in May, it’s one more person aware of food allergies."
After the first building Lowe began researching other sites in the US. The 2nd year of the Light It Teal project, 3 more sites support the initiative. Over the years 25, 50, then even more have turned it teal for food allergy awareness. Lowe laughs, “I now know more about industrial lighting than I ever thought someone in the healthcare field could!”
While most lightings happen during Food Allergy Awareness Week (each May), Lowe works year-round to make them happen. “I have to contact some sites the day after a lighting takes place to book for the following year,” she explains. “None of the lightings are a “one and done” -- we have to submit requests every year for the sites.”
Lowe is always on the lookout for more sites to add to Light It Teal’s growing list. Finding sites is probably the hardest part of this labor of love. Lowe constantly talks to people around the world for ideas on buildings, bridges, monuments and natural wonders to turn teal, and possible contacts to make it happen.
What site has been near and dear to her heart?
Even though Lowe has turned over 60 sites teal around the world, she shares, “I love that the Terminal Tower in Cleveland, our first site, is still lighting the way and has for all 7 years. Niagara Falls was also a site I was excited to see supporting our project.” Seven years into it, Lowe now has friends in Canada, Australia, Jordan and other countries who help. Light It Teal continues to add new sites each year.
"Getting the word out to those outside the food allergy community is vital to those living with food allergies."
Lowe explains, “We all know and understand what our lives are like. Getting the word out to those outside our community is vital to those living with food allergies.”
You can help spread awareness about food allergies and turn the world teal. Here’s how:
Suggest some sites in your community and if possible, provide a contact name/number. You can contact @lightitteal via Facebook Messenger. Every site suggested will be considered and researched.
Share, share, share @lightitteal’s news about lightings — especially with people outside the food allergy community. @lightitteal is present on most social media platforms. You can find more about upcoming lightings @lightitteal.
@lightitteal operates 100% using family funds to support project costs, though several lightings have been paid for by generous sponsors. Lowe would love an assist from anyone who can help @lightitteal generate more publicity for the lightings.
"In the food allergy space, the only constant is change, and that includes the life of a food allergy parent."
Looking ahead, Lowe hopes “the new research on early introduction will help turn the tide on the steep increase we’ve seen in food allergies over the last few decades. There are also treatments coming down the line that may help many with food allergies. As the research continues and we know more, we hopefully can do more for the kids and adults with food allergies.” With advances in food allergy prevention, diagnosis and treatment, “the day I’m “out of a job” lighting up the world in teal will be a great day!” reflects Lowe.
Life with food allergies can be challenging, a mix highs and lows. Lowe likes to reassure people, “When first diagnosed, it will become your new normal. It takes time to adapt and you have to do what is best for your family. No two families manage any situation the exact same way and that’s okay. Always remember that you/your child is a person, not a condition. Never lead with that. They are so, so much more! “
Thank you @lightitteal for the important work you do for the food allergy community.
The Allergy Force Changemaker Series shines a light on movers and shakers in the food allergy community who drive change and make a positive difference for the entire community.
Image Credit: Thank you to Stephanie Lowe, Founder of Light it Teal, for sharing the images.