Teens in the Real World
  Food Allergies in the Real World  

Spreading the Word

by Sarah, age 15. Allergic to milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, and shellfish.

Food allergies have become an increasingly popular topic in magazines, newspapers, research papers, commercials, and the nightly news. This is very good, because it means that awareness is spreading rapidly. People want to know more and more about how kids like us cope with our allergies in our everyday lives, and so many of us are being interviewed in the media.

My first such experience was in 2001, when the FDA Consumer interviewed me and put my mom and I on the cover. Quickly following that, I had two TV interviews for a section on the news that focused on kids with allergies. It was a very interesting experience, and I found myself not bothered at all when they told me that it would be in front of 10 million people. I was just a kid with food allergies telling a bunch of people about my life. And in doing so, I knew that I could educate people throughout the U.S. about how serious a reaction could be.

Another opportunity that presented itself to me was Kids’ Congress on Capitol Hill. A large group of kids (all ages) and their parents spoke with the aides of several different representatives and senators about personal experiences and why the bills under review should be passed. We also learned about the process of passing of a bill and several other interesting things about politics and law.

The aides of the two senators and the two representatives that my group met with all seemed very enthusiastic about passing the Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Management Act, especially since three of them had allergies themselves or knew people who had allergies. There were a few other groups who had come away from their meetings with absolute “noes,” but that was a very small percentage. Most of the groups came away with “maybes,” and several came out with “yeses,” so we’re all very optimistic about the outcome. Keep on the lookout for news about bills H.R. 2063 and S. 1232!

Note: Since Sarah wrote this, the Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Management Act passed in the House of Representatives and is now being considered in the Senate.
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