I am JJ: Welcome to my blog for parents.

 I've been living with this allergy for a lifetime. This week starts my blogging journey. 

I've been living with this allergy for a lifetime. This week starts my blogging journey. 

Today is day two of can...

My name is J.J., and I am a 20-year-old junior at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. I live with life-threatening food allergies to dairy and to tree nuts. I’m an advocate for young people. I wrote a children’s book. I’m even shooting a pilot for a food show. And blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.

Ok, resume down.

Here’s the deal. I am a motivated young person who is ready to use his life experiences to help others who live with allergies. If my life journey is any indication — the good and the bad — I have something to offer. Somewhere along the way, I went from a scared little boy who refused to get on the school bus his first day of Kindergarten because a fifth grader was eating a Twinkie at the bus stop, to the president of my high school class, to a 20-year-old who lives in the Land of Can every single day. 

This blog is my contribution to the allergy community.

Every day, I will add my voice to the nationwide dialogue on food allergies. Every day, I will contribute one post that moves the discussion forward. Every day, I hope to continue to create a premier resource for children with allergies and the people who care for them.

Over the past year, I’ve been interviewing young people who have allergies and their family members and caregivers. I asked them what they wanted to see as a resource. With this information in hand, I met with a number of allergists and adolescent psychologists in the field to ask them how I could best contribute to this discussion. 

“We need to focus on the emotional side of things,” I insisted. They agreed.

They asked me what I knew. I told them. We made lists and more lists and more lists. Then we worked through the clutter to formulate a daily plan.

“A blog a day?” one of the allergists questioned when we looked at the final plan. “Isn’t that a bit ambitious for a busy college student?”

“Yep,” I agreed. “But I can spare 20 minutes a day for the kids.”

Here is the plan:

Sunday: "CANspiration"

Every Sunday, I’ll release a short, CANspirational video for kids and teens. Over the past year, psychologists helped me to develop tools that young people can use to get to CAN. Each week from my college apartment, I’ll focus on one of the Can traits and, in two minutes or less, unveil a motivational talk. This talk will appeal to all young people, not just those with allergies.

Monday: “I Am J.J.”

Each Monday, I’ll tell you what’s really on my mind. I’ve lived with life-threatening food allergies for 20 years, and I have a lot to share with parents and children. I’m not holding back. have some strong opinions about what we need to do to help our children. My blog. My rules. Watch out. 

Tuesday: "Situation Allergy”

When you have a food allergy, knowing how to handle a situation BEFORE it occurs is key. Just like learning how to say no to drugs, experts say that children who know how to handle common food situations have less stress and are more confident in their daily interactions. (Their parents should know too!) I have created hundreds of scenarios dealing with living with a food allergy. Each week, I’ll share one. Let the discussions begin.

Wednesday: “Pic ’n Play”

I love a photo that makes you think. Every Wednesday, I’ll post a pic & watch us play.

Thursday: “Allergy 101”

I wish I didn't have my allergy, but since I do, I'm going to learn from it. Thursday, I’ll sit at a table with my allergy — Mr. A, I call him — and explore what having a life-threatening allergy in my life has taught me. When the opportunity exists, parents, reinforce these lessons with your own children.

Friday: “Can Openers”

Many people enable us to live in the Land of Can. Each Friday, I’ll present the "Can Opener" award — It’s my “thank you" acknowledgment to those who advocate for me and for those in the food allergy community. Hopefully, this inspires you to thank, and possibly nominate, a Can Opener in your life, too. 

Saturday: “The Talk, with Mom and Dad” Podcast

My parents raised me with a CAN mindset. Each Saturday, I’ll call my parents, and we’ll have an honest podcast about the challenges of raising a child with an allergy. Maybe their experiences might help someone else, too. I’ve never really talked to my parents about the challenges they had raising me with an allergy. I’m eager to find things out. 

I’m ready. Today, I have three readers — my mom and dad and my younger sister. (OK…. I don’t think my sister will read this!)  Hopefully by next week, I’ll have a few more. Please subscribe, share, retweet… do whatever you have to do. Oh, and comment, comment, comment. This is a discussion, not a sermon.

Research says there are almost 15 million Americans living with food allergies. I happen to be one of them. And this is my voice.

I’ll see you tomorrow. 

Jamison VulopasComment