Inclusive. Supportive. Respecting boundaries. Responsibility for what we say and do.
These are all words and phrases to describe how to be a good friend. They’re also valuable life lessons that Girl Scouts of Northern Illinois Daisy Scout Troop 636 learned during a recent troop meeting about being kind and considerate to people with life-threatening food allergies.
Since two girls in the troop have multiple food allergies, the scouts were eager to learn more about how to support their friends while earning their “Consideration and Caring Daisy Petal” Achievement Badge.
With the help of Sakina Bajowala, MD, a board-certified allergist based in suburban Chicago and Allergy & Asthma Network Anaphylaxis Community Experts (ACE) volunteer, the 5- and 6-year-olds learned anaphylaxis and food allergy basics including:
- Why a peanut is harmless to some people, but dangerous to a person with a life-threatening allergy.
- Why it’s important to be considerate of a friend’s safety.
- How to help a friend who is being bullied because of his/her life-threatening allergies.
The girls learned how to use an epinephrine auto-injector training device and completed an “allergic reaction” drill in which they practiced how to call for help if a friend has a severe allergic reaction.
An ACE member since 2010, Dr. Bajowala offers a unique perspective because she has food allergies and she is the mom of two boys with food allergies. (Check out her blog at http://allergistmommy.blogspot.com.) She was delighted to help plant a seed for how peer support can help food-allergic children stay safe.
“Learning to be kind and considerate at a young age shapes your development and worldview,” Dr. Bajowala says. “It teaches you to be aware of others’ needs, to respect boundaries and always be inclusive. These are needed traits as a person who is aware and supportive of a friend’s food allergy.”
Cindy Babka, the troop’s co-leader, added: “Dr. Bajowala taught our scouts – in an age-appropriate, fact-based way – to be considerate to a friend with a life-threatening allergy. She helped them understand the information and how to apply it to their lives.”
By Brenda M. Silvia-Torma, MEd
ACEs is a national, award-winning education, advocacy and outreach partnership program developed and hosted by Allergy & Asthma Network and the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, sponsored by Mylan Specialty, LP.