Food Allergy 101: School is the perfect place to learn how to thrive with an allergy

Awesome photo by Ben White!

Awesome photo by Ben White!

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 #166 —  I'm sitting at the table when Mr. A, my allergy, runs over to me. He's holding three huge textbooks and two backpacks. He's smiling broadly.

"Why are you so happy?" I ask. 

"It's back to school time," he says. "I love back to school time!"

"You do?" I ask. "Why?"

"I love all the anxiety it causes parents and kids," Mr. A says. "They are so, so, so, so, so worried about how they're going to do it all with their allergy."

"You're pathetic," I say mater of factly. "Stop gloating over someone's pain."

He chuckles. "It's what I do."

I continue: "Anyway, school is awesome when it comes to the allergy. It's the perfect place for kids to learn how to manage and navigate living with an allergy."

"Huh?" he interrupts. "What do you mean perfect place?"

"When set up correctly, and under the eyes of trained and responsible administrators, teachers and staff, school is a safe space for kids to learn how to thrive," I explain. "Sure it can cause some initial anxiety because of the unknown. But just like it can teach our children how to read and write and perform high level math skills, school can also teach them how to become geniuses at living and thriving with an allergy."

Mr. A loses his smile. 

"Why are you always ruining a good thing?" he says. "Why are you always trying to knock me down."

I chuckle. "It's what I do."


JJ Vulopas is a rising 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 Follow him on Instagram & Twitter @thelandofcan.