Dairy-Free Community Feature: Whether they are on the periphery or deep in the trenches of dairy-free living, there are many influential people who are going above and beyond to help shape and support the dairy-free community. On Go Dairy Free, we want to highlight, share, and celebrate some of our heroes, one article at a time…
To be honest, I’m not sure if Kyle Dine follows a dairy-free diet himself, but with all of the praise he’s received from the milk allergic community, I don’t really need to ask. From toddlers to teens, Kyle has provided smiles, laughter, guidance, and fun events where milk allergic and other food allergic kids can gather and no longer feel alone with their “differences”.
His work may have started with food allergy music and concerts, but Kyle Dine has also spearheaded teen programs for Anaphylaxis Canada and is working on a video for allergy education in schools. I recently caught up with Kyle to find out a bit more about him and what he is up to.
What motivated you to become more involved as an activist in the food allergy community?
An anaphylactic reaction. I wish it wasn’t that way, but until the day that I was shaken to the core after experiencing life-threatening anaphylaxis at age 21, I never thought too much of my allergies. Looking back, it was the wake-up call I needed. It made me want to do everything in my power to avoid another scary reaction. Knowing how naive I was, never thinking that could ever happen to me, I wanted to use my experience to educate others about the severity of food allergies. I did that the best way I knew how at the time, with my guitar. I was in bands, I taught guitar, I lived music. It just seemed like a natural, yet unique fit to start writing educational songs for kids about food allergies.
What has been your driving mission?
To normalize food allergies. Personally, I do not find avoiding foods and carrying epinephrine is the worst thing about the condition. It’s all of the psycho-social issues that come along with it: teasing, bullying, ignorance from others, disbelief… the list goes on. These types of attitudes can shape kids into thinking they’re a burden and cause them to be more cavalier with their allergies just to fit in. The fact is, many people have allergies, and it’s okay. I understand that society has a lot to learn and there just isn’t a lot of mainstream education about it. Many people just think about peanut allergy, but as we know, milk allergy is more prevalent in children and must not be overlooked. My mission is to flip society’s perception of food allergy by giving them them information, and empowerment knowing they can make a difference, ultimately helping them become more understanding and empathetic for people with this condition.
Tell us about a memorable moment that made your efforts feel worthwhile
The great thing about my job, is that these moments happen every day. With each show I perform across North America, kids without food allergies are giving high fives to their allergic classmates, thinking it’s cool to have food allergies. They’re asking questions, they’re engaged, they’re 100% into it – that is what has kept me going over 7 years of performing at over 500 schools. If I had to pick one moment, it might be an email I received from a mom who’s daughter spoke up when experiencing a reaction. The lyrics of my song “Never Keep a Reaction a Secret” had stuck with her. I wrote that song because I know first hand the range of emotions you feel during a reaction – embarrassment that you did something wrong is common, but it’s okay to speak up. After hearing a story like that, I know I’ve been put on this earth for a reason.
What projects have you worked on for the food allergy community and what are your current endeavours?
Shortly after I released my first CD “You Must Be Nuts!” (by the way, have you heard “No Dairy Please!“? It goes down as my most favourite song I’ve ever recorded – those cow sounds are me!), I got a job with Anaphylaxis Canada. I have worked with them since 2008, and helped primarily with their excellent teen resources such as allergy videos, a smartphone app, and most recently a blog for Adults with Allergies. I also founded the website Allergy Translation that provides translation cards for people with allergies travelling abroad. Yes – making life easier for people with food allergies is my life passion!
My current endeavour is a DVD that encapsulates the fun of my live shows featuring songs, puppets and games, but in a professional video. The demand for my school performances is higher than ever, and I know how eager schools are to provide allergy education to ALL students in compliance with CDC guidelines and provincial policies in Canada. This will be the “just press play” solution that teachers are looking for. I am currently crowd-funding the project on Kickstarter as I want the whole allergic community to be a part of this ground-breaking resource. Join the movement to support food allergy education in schools at: http://kck.st/1uijCL3
Where to find Kyle Dine
Kyle Dine has a loyal following, and his educational video will become a reality thanks to the quick success of his Kickstarter campaign, but he can more help! Get more information here: http://kck.st/1uijCL3