Teens in the Real World
  Food Allergies in the Real World  

Walk for Food Allergy: Moving Toward a Cure

Teen volunteers take a break at the finish line.Get your walking shoes on! Thousands of FAAN members and their friends and family across the country walked last fall to raise awareness about food allergy.

The FAAN Walks kicked off in August in Niagara Falls, NY. The next stop was Fairfax, VA, where 16-year-old Kelly had been working behind the scenes for months to help publicize the Walk. Kelly was diagnosed with her allergies to peanuts, wheat, shellfish, and milk when she was 1 1/2 years old. “I always read all of the information FAAN sends me, and I thought this would be a good way to educate people about food allergies,” Kelly said.

Aside from hanging up posters for the Walk around her community, Kelly also wrote public service announcements and encouraged local news channels to cover the Walk. “Participating in the organization of the Walk was a lot of work, but it was fun as well,” she said.

Liz, 13, doesn’t have any allergies. But when her friend Allison told her about the FAAN Walk, she knew she wanted to volunteer. “We wanted to do something more than go to the movies,” she explained. “We wanted to help out somehow.”

Liz spent the morning dressed up in a wheat costume, alongside other FANTeen volunteers who dressed up as the other major allergens. The younger kids at the Walk delighted in having their picture taken with oversized caricatures of the foods to which they are allergic.

“I expected to see less people there,” Liz said. “It surprised me how these kids are so happy and treat their allergies as if they are nothing. They can still have fun.” Thanks to the help of FAAN’s teen volunteers, the kids at the Walk did exactly that.

Jessica, Susan, and Mari, students at George Mason University, also learned a lot by handing out refreshments after the Walk. “What surprised me was that there were so many people with food allergies!” Susan, 19, said. “I learned how cautious you need to be when it comes down to people who have a food allergy. They need to be very careful and read the ingredient statement before they can eat anything.”

Jessica, 19, agreed. “It was challenging to answer parents’ questions about the ingredients in the different foods, but I enjoyed seeing all the different people and learning about what kind of allergies they had. I learned why the walk was important.”

“I think the coolest part was realizing that there are a lot of people with allergies – I never even knew it was such a big deal. It impacts their lives deeply,” Jessica said.

Do you want to make a difference, too?

Grab some friends and volunteer to help out at next year’s Walks. For more information, visit our main site.

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