Food Allergy 101: 18 down. 99,982 schools to go!
What if my food allergy was a real, live person? And what if I could talk to him about what he's taught me over the years? Every Thursday, I get that chance...
BLOG POST #187 — I’m sitting in the coffee shop waiting for Mr. A, my allergy, to arrive. When he arrives, he’s smiling.
“I have a question,” he asks as he walks over pulls up a chair.
“You have a book to help kids with food allergies, right?” he asks.
“I do,” I say. “Land of Not helps elementary kids with food allergies focus on all the things they CAN do. I’m excited about it.”
He continues. “Is it for schools, too?”
“Yep,” I say. “From preschool through 4th grade. I’m reaching out to elementary teachers and librarians and school nurses.”
“Nice,” Mr. A. says with a hint of sarcasm. “And how many classrooms are you actually in? How many elementary teachers or school nurses or libraries have it?”
I pause. I now know why he’s smiling. “Eighteen,” I say.
“18. 18? 18!” he lets out a loud laugh. People sitting around us begin to stare. “Wow, you really are changing the world!”
I look at him directly in the eyes. “Laugh all you want,” I say. “Your taunts wont stop me. There are 100,000 elementary schools in this nation, and one day my book will be helping kids in every single one of them.”
He continues laughing, and that’s ok. I’ve learned a long time ago that I’m not going to let the doubters stop me from helping others, especially young kids with allergies and their friends who need to hear my message most.
(Will you help? Purchase Land of Not and gift it to an elementary teacher, a school nurse, a school librarian or anyone who is caring for kids with food allergies.)
JJ Vulopas is a senior at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. An advocate for young people, JJ has lived with food allergies his entire life. He is the author of the children's book, Land of Not. You can read his daily blog at www.thelandofcan.com. Follow him on Instagram & Twitter @thelandofcan.