Oh & Pa CAN matters


I am constantly amazed at the enthusiasm students show once they read Land of Not and dive into the CAN resources. A few months ago, I spoke at John Beck Elementary School. I left behind one of our Land of Can maps. Last week, they displayed the map during a Community Night.

Whenever I see the young people showcasing their CANs, I’m reminded why this campaign is so important. So often, kids with food allergies define themselves by their NOTs. Left unchecked, this can be devastating.

We are entering the second full week of #OhPaCAN, our campaign to raise food allergy awareness & CAN empowerment in every public elementary school in Ohio and Pennsylvania… and eventually the nation! Our GoFundMe has received $1,539 so far! If you can, please visit our GoFundMe and support us. We are looking for $17.50 per school. Any donation helps. (Those who make a donation will have their names printed in the books we send to the schools in Ohio and Pennsylvania!)

Today, I want to spend a few minutes outlining my guiding principles to the campaign. Whenever I develop a project, I’ve been taught to create a list of “Non-Negotiables,” rules that I must follow. Here they are:

The CANpaign must be:

  1. Affordable. To make this campaign a success, we need $17.50 per school. $17.50 is extremely affordable, especially considering the vast number of food allergy tools and CAN resources the schools will have access to. This isn’t just my book, but it’s much, much, MUCH more.

  2. Collaborative. Our community is stronger when we work together, and I am choosing to work with organizations and people who embody the traits of CAN. For OhPaCAN, I am partnering with two amazing organizations, Allison Rose Foundation and Red Sneakers for Oakley.

  3. Cool. I wanted to create something fun, not just informative. Our lessons are creative and cool.

  4. All-inclusive. In addition to just raising food allergy awareness, I wanted to create something that would benefit ALL children. Our 13 Words of Can and online tools do just that.

  5. Effective. When I created the campaign, I didn’t do it alone. I wanted to ensure that we used best practice to guide us so I reached out to educators, pediatricians, and psychologists to make sure what we deliver works! Our lesson plans were created by educators using state standards. Pediatricians and psychologists continue to review our information at each step.

  6. Simple to implement. Too many resources may get to a school but if teachers aren’t going to use them, so what? Since our lessons have been designed by busy educators for busy educators, our plans can be easily customized to fit the needs of any class.

  7. Authentic. I know what’s it like when a school tries to force food allergy awareness. Unless you are a child living with an allergy, it’s hard to explain why some awareness lessons can be uncomfortable. But they are because they can put an unnecessary spotlight on the student with the allergy and it can cause resentment among others. Over time, I used to dread the annual class “allergy lesson.” I know it was well-intended, but it didn’t make the feeling I had any better. I designed our Food Allergy CANpaign to work seamlessly into any class.

Additional information about #ohpacan is below & on our GoFundMe page.

Have you supported #OhPaCan yet?

My mission is to raise food allergy awareness and empower ALL young people in EVERY elementary school across the nation to live in The Land of Can! 

First, we're starting with schools in two states: Ohio & Pennsylvania.

Introducing phase one: OH CAN & PA CAN.

With the help of two amazing organizations — the Allison Rose Foundation and Red Sneakers for Oakley —  we will provide each of the 1,738 public elementary schools in Ohio and each of the 1,619 public elementary schools in Pennsylvania with a special children's book, authentic food allergy resources and CAN empowerment tools that will help all kids soar!

This CANpaign enables us to establish the Land of Can in every public elementary school in Ohio and Pennsylvania (for $17.50 per school!) Each school will receive:

Land of Not: Allison Rose Foundation Edition (Created especially for schools in Ohio.)

Land of Not: Red Sneakers for Oakley Edition (Created especially for schools in Pennsylvania.)

• 136-page Teacher’s PDF Guide To Land of Not and to the 13 Words of CAN that all students should know.

The Nuts & Bolts of Teaching Kids Who Can’t Eat Nuts & Bolts (& soy & dairy & peanuts...) Written by veteran teachers, this eBook will empower educators to confidently teach students with food allergies to succeed. 

• Password-protected access to the online tools to teach the 13 Words of Can, including podcasts with experts, creative activities, reproducible handouts, fun videos, and much, much more.  For the past two years, I have been working with the nation’s top minds to create an authentic resource that educators (and parents) can use to teach ALL elementary students how to live an asset-based life. All educators & parents from each elementary school will have unlimited access. 

• Password-protected access to our ONLINE FOOD ALLERGY SCHOOL RESOURCES suite. For the past two years, I have been working with experts to create an authentic, accessible resource that will feature columns, scenarios, podcasts, etc. for teachers, administrators, parents and school staff. By using best practice and authentic voices to raise awareness for all, we can transform how schools empower their teachers and those who interact with students who have food allergies.

In addition to sending materials to all schools, we also will donate Land of Not book and materials to the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.

All schools in the CANpaign will receive the information in August 2019, just in time for the start of the new school year!

The food allergy community is a strong community, but this campaign transcends food allergies. This isn't just about children with food allergies. This campaign is about empowering all kids. This CANpaign needs your help. Our children need your help. Your donation will provide our special edition children's book, food allergy resources and CAN empowerment tools to the schools in Ohio and Pennsylvania, setting the stage for us to immediately continue campaigns in other states!

Anyone who donates on the GoFundMe page will have their name printed in every book we send to the schools. (Also, everyone who supported our initial school CANpaign last September will also have your names listed too!)

How many schools will you support today? Please visit our GoFundMe page to contribute.

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 and follow him @thelandofcan on Twitter and Instagram.