I am JJ: Is your child's food allergy a burden or an opportunity?

Blog Post #149 — People who live in the Land of Can are constantly looking for opportunity because opportunity exists wherever you are, wherever you live, whatever you're dealing with.  This was the message I discussed yesterday in my CANspirational video for young people.

In the video, I explained how, when I was younger, my dad would take me to Times Square in New York City and point to all the lights.  “This is opportunity!" he'd proclaim. "Do you see it? Do you hear it?"

Indeed, it’s easy to feel opportunity when you’re overlooking Times Square. 

But then my dad would do something that shaped my view. When we’d return home later that night, my dad would stop the car about 5 minutes from the house. We’d get out and sit on a hill overlooking a big farm. It was totally still — the exact opposite of New York City. 

“This is opportunity, JJ!” my dad would say, his tone equally as excited. “Do you see it? Do you hear it?”

I didn't get the lesson at the time. But over the years, I did. His goal was to get me to see and hear opportunity wherever I was, whatever I was dealing with, whether it was something good or something bad. For a child with a food allergy, this lesson is integral for success. 

When you have a food allergy, you can view your food allergy as a burden or as an opportunity. Every day, I chose to see it as an opportunity, and it has made all the difference. 

Although having a food allergy is serious and is cause to be vigilant, it is still an opportunity to...

• Be a role model to others. 

• Be an advocate.

• Be intellectually curious.

• Explore a future career as a researcher or a scientist or an allergist or a social worker or a pediatrician or a chef or a recipe developer...

• Care and be empathetic.

• Collaborate.

• Be creative. 

• Eat right and be healthy.

• Accept others

• Acknowledge what others do for you. 

• Take pride in you.

• Build on your strengths.

• Understand what foods you’re putting into your body.

• Persevere. 

What does your child's food allergy give you the opportunity to 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 www.thelandofcan.com and follow him @thelandofcan on Twitter and Instagram.