Tapping Your Inner Advocate
This past summer, @redsneakersforoakley shared a parent’s good news on Instagram that allergy awareness signs were put up at parks in Dracut, Massachusetts. Concerned families in the community had taken action to make their community safer for kids with food allergies.
I commented on the post and wanted to share my thoughts here because I believe advocacy absolutely can increase awareness and result in positive changes (especially when caring communities listen and take our message to heart.)
Each of us has the power to be an advocate, spreading food allergy awareness in ways big and small.
A few years ago, while at the park with one of my peanut allergy kiddos to meet up with other moms and kids, I watched a mom toss a half eaten peanut butter sandwich to the side. She half laughed as she did it, saying “the animals can eat it later.”
So I gathered some courage and spoke up. Speaking up is not always easy, but my kids' safety was at stake.
I gently explained that I was going to be throwing the discarded sandwich in the trash because if my kids walked by and came in contact with it — even in the slightest way — they’d have a full-on allergic reaction that would send them to the hospital, or worse.
What was great about the moment was that it sparked a conversation between all of the moms at the park that day. Many admitted they’d never even thought of things like that since it wasn’t a part of their everyday lives.
The result? From finding the courage to say something?
All the moms who joined the conversation said they’d be changing a few habits that are so simple to change and could save someone else’s life.
Please take action in your community to make it a safer place for people with food allergies. If you see something, find courage and say something.
“Each of us has within us the power to drive food allergy awareness. It takes courage to speak up.
Find your courage. Speak up.”
—Toni Hill, food allergy mom & advocate
About the Author: I’m Toni, mom to 7 children, and many foster children, in South Dakota. When our 5th child had an anaphylactic reaction to peanut butter it changed our world and our 6th came along with even more. Living in such a rural area it can be even trickier to get the word across to some people, but ultimately everyone is capable of learning and being proactive to protect others in their communities. It just takes an advocate to get it started sometimes. Follow me, @blackhillsmommy, on Instagram and YouTube.
A special thank you to @lindag_1681 for use of the image and to Red Sneakers for Oakley for highlighting the community advocacy win in Massachusetts.