Can Openers: Stephanie Lowe and the cities of teal

 Thanks to Turn it Teal, Philadelphia's Ben Franklin Bridge will be illuminated teal on May 14 for food allergy awareness. 

Thanks to Turn it Teal, Philadelphia's Ben Franklin Bridge will be illuminated teal on May 14 for food allergy awareness. 

Sometimes the best way to get a message out is to look at something familiar in a new light. How about the color teal?

Stephanie Lowe first had the idea of lighting a local building in teal for food allergy awareness. The building was the Terminal Tower in Cleveland, Ohio. She acted on a whim. That was in 2014.

"I had no idea what I was doing," the founder of Turn it Teal said in a recent blog post about her journey. "But I poked around and found out who to contact. It didn’t take long to get a reply and it was a 'Yes.'"

Since then, the national food allergy advocate, community thought leader and mother of three has been on a mission. With the help of other advocates and organizations, she's been lighting up building, bridges and monuments everywhere. And I do mean everywhere. Like all around the world everywhere... even where I live in Philadelphia. On May 14, the Ben Franklin Bridge, which connects Camden and Philly, will be illuminated in teal. 

I firmly believe that through awareness and education, we will witness incredible progress in how the general public views food allergies. Understanding leads to empathy, and empathy leads to growth. I applaud Stephanie's vision and perseverance, and  I am in awe looking at what she has been able to accomplish simply by first acting on a whim. Visit www.turnitteal.org and look at the list of cities that have committed to "turnitteal" for food allergy awareness week. Imagine the millions of people who this month will see a familiar building, bridge or monument in a new light and ask, "Why teal?" That's when the learning can happen! 

I present this week's Can Opener Award to Stephanie Lowe, the advocates who have helped her with the Turn it Teal mission, and the cities of teal who have agreed to loan us their prime real estate to get our life-saving message to the masses. 

 

JJ Vulopas is a junior 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. Follow him on Instagram and on Twitter @thelandofcan.