I am JJ: Do you know of a young person with a food allergy who has something to say?
Every so often, I'll share the keys to The Land of can.
BLOG POST #86 — I received a cool email the other week from a young person who asked if I ever needed help writing my blog. He had some things he wanted to say. And that got me thinking. How many others have something to say?
Will I share this space? Of course I will. Experts say it's vital for young people to learn to advocate for themselves. Let's lift up and empower their young voices. Living in the Land of Can takes having initiative. Taking initiative is having the courage to contribute!
So here is my call to all young people with food allergies who have something to say. Email me. Guest bloggers will have the keys to the Land of Can for the week. Here is the outline...
Monday: “I Am <INSERT YOUR NAME HERE>"
This is short blog post where you say what's on your mind. If you're like me, you have a lot to share with parents and others. Use your voice. It's your Monday. It's your space. (Read my previous Monday "I am JJ" posts for examples.)
Tuesday: "Situation Allergy”
What's a scenario you want to share? Maybe it's something others never think about but you do all the time. Maybe it's more common. Create the scenario. If you want, tell us how you would respond. The scenario can be for parents, teachers, young people with allergies, etc. (Read my previous Tuesday sceanarios for examples.)
Wednesday: “Pic ’n Play”
Find a cool photo or art piece that will make our readers think. Maybe it's something that makes you laugh or frustrates you or empowers you. If you're good at art, create your own! (Check out my previous Wednesday posts for examples.)
Thursday: “Allergy 101”
None of us want this allergy, but since we have it we must learn from it. Thursday, I pretend to 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. I'm hoping parents read this and pass it onto their children.
These are fun to create, especially because I always like making Mr. A. seem like a goofball.
For your post, pretend Mr. A. sits with you. What is a lesson he has taught you? (Read my previous Thursday posts for examples.)
Friday: “Can Openers”
Who makes a difference in your life? This is your chance to present the "Can Opener" award to those who advocate for you. This is your chance to give a big public "Thank you!" (Scroll through my Friday "Can Opener" posts for examples.
Saturday: “The Allergy Talk” Podcast
Open up GarageBand or any recording program on your computer and have a short talk with your parents or guardians or siblings or teachers or anyone who has been part of your allergy journey. Talk about the challenges/rewards, etc. of raising/teaching a child with an allergy. The podcast should be no more than 5 minutes but should address something that might help others. Before doing this podcast, I’ve never really talked to my parents about the challenges they had raising me with an allergy. It's awesome to have this talk. Don't worry about making it sound like a high-tech podcast. Our community just wants to hear our voices. They're not looking for perfection.
I'm looking to fill several weeks throughout the year with guest bloggers, which is why I am posting this in advance so the bloggers can plan accordingly. IF you know of anyone who is interested, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. DON'T HAVE THEM WRITE THE BLOG POSTS FIRST. I want to correspond with them first so they can plan it correctly.
I'm looking for motivated young people to share this space. If your children need help writing, no worries. (I have also had educators reach out willing to help. I can guide them, too, of course!) Their young voices matter. Let's prove it to them.
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.