Anaphylaxis Canada has launched a video series to help teenagers effectively manage their food allergies and stay safe. This group faces unique challenges in trying to manage potentially life-threatening allergies in various social situations, from attending school to dating, socializing and working. In addition, peer pressure, a tendency towards risky behaviour and the occasional negative portrayal of food allergy has created a demand for positive, informative messages.
The Anaphylaxis Canada Teen Video Series created by and for teens depicts five real-life scenarios (dating, traveling, dining out, high school, and eating safely) and offers tips on coping with these challenges and staying safe. The videos can be viewed here: www.youtube.com/anaphylaxiscanada or on the Why Risk It? Website.
“Communicating directly to teens about managing risks and encouraging them to take responsibility for their allergies can help reduce instances of allergic reactions and prepare them for adulthood,” said Kyle Dine, Program Coordinator at Anaphylaxis Canada.
Recent Canadian research indicates that more than 2 million Canadians, including a high number of young people, are affected by food allergy. One in two Canadians know someone with a serious allergy. As avoidance of allergens is the only sure means of preventing a potentially life-threatening anaphylactic reaction, communicating strategies that help teens self-protect is critical, as is the knowledge and understanding of friends and fellow students.
Educating in forums that teens are comfortable with and will respond to is important. Consider that a 2009 U.S. study of college and university aged students with food allergies revealed a high number of them are taking unnecessary risks when it comes to managing their allergies. For example, more than 75% of those surveyed do not maintain an epinephrine auto-injector (e.g. EpiPen® or Twinject®) while 60% do not avoid the food to which they are allergic.
Reaction to the videos has been extremely positive. Some examples:
- Alex Chippin is a 17-year-old student with allergies to peanuts, tree nuts, and chick peas. He calls the videos useful because “They prepare you for a lot of realistic situations that will come up and teaches you how to react”.
- Kemrani Khan is the mother of a 17-year-old boy with allergies to peanuts and tree nuts. “I really like the videos as they serve to remind my son to remain vigilant at all times and also helps to give friends and family a better perspective on the challenges my son faces on a daily basis.”
- Daniel Loberto, a 17-year-old high school student with no food allergies, still found the videos helpful. “These videos helped me gain a better understanding about what it’s like to live with severe food allergies and how challenging it can be.”
Anaphylaxis Canada’s Teen Video Series is the latest initiative in its Why Risk It? allergy awareness program targeted at pre-teens, teenagers and young adults. More information about the program can be found at: www.whyriskit.ca.