Veronica Wathen was 11 months old when she had an allergic reaction to an empty granola bar wrapper that she placed in her mouth. Her parents immediately brought her to a nearby emergency room where doctors told her she had food allergies.
After more testing, Veronica was diagnosed with a severe allergy to eggs and milk. D0ctors prescribed her parents with epinephrine auto-injectors and gave instructions on how to use them should she come into contact with her allergens.
Growing up, Veronica learned to manage her food allergies. She reads food labels and asks restaurant staff if any food contains her allergens. She even creates some tasty allergy-safe dishes and desserts.
Today, Veronica is an active 14-year-old living in Rhode Island. She enjoys karate, volleyball, hanging out with her friends – and especially Girl Scouts. She has been in Girl Scouts since kindergarten.
As a Cadette Girl Scout, she had the opportunity to complete the Girl Scout Silver Award, the second highest award a Girl Scout can achieve. Girl Scouts attempting to earn the award are expected to put in at least 50 hours of their time towards completion of their project.
For her project, Veronica decided to author a food allergy coloring book called Cross-Contamination Collaboration. It’s about a student’s journey with food allergies. She worked with freelance illustrator Shelley Shaw for the book’s visual concepts.
“I wanted to choose something I’m really passionate about,” she says. “Food allergies are a part of who I am. I wanted others with food allergies to know they are not alone.”
Confident and Assured
Veronica presented her Girl Scout Silver Award project to children at Peace Dale Library in Rhode Island. She read her book, colored with the children and answered questions about food allergies as well.
Asked if she has any advice for children with food allergies, Veronica says, “Yes! If kids at school use peer pressure to get you to eat something you are allergic to, do not eat it and do not be embarrassed about it. You can just walk away and tell a teacher, school nurse or a family member.
“Food allergies are nothing to be embarrassed about. It’s a part of what makes you, you!”