The Emotional Component of an Allergy or Anaphylaxis Diagnosis

I set an intention for this summer to spend as much time as possible OUTDOORS and WITH MY KIDS and I'm happy to say I've been doing a great job with this!  I took time off from work and everything to really be PRESENT with my kids and myself to enjoy this beautiful season.  I have also taken time to really kick up my personal yoga practice.

Let me tell you WHY I'm consciously taking more time for ME...

Being a caregiver (aka "allergy mom") to my child with severe anaphylaxis is honestly stressful. There are the moments that frighten me as I worry that something she is eating may be contaminated and I feel the stress as I wait and watch and pray that she is ok. There is the trauma that is stored in me from the day she had her most serious reaction and all of the stress of that horrible day.  And there is this pervading anxiety that is always with me, knowing that she has these allergies and the risks that other families don't have to worry about for their children.

For those that suffer with severe allergies and anaphylaxis, there are fears, traumas and stress. I get emails all the time from families who share their true fears and anxieties with me. Children who are refusing to eat because they are afraid of food...those types of stories. There is most definitely a psychological component to living as a caregiver or having these allergies yourself and unfortunately many people feel isolated, alone and embarrassed to admit that they are not coping well emotionally. 

Please know that what you are feeling is NORMAL! Understandable... and that there are people who get what you are going through even though it may not feel like it!

Why you need to take better care of yourself starting NOW!

I know how important it is for you to take care of your children, your partner, and all of the people in your life that are important to you. As a caregiver, we often put those we care for on the top of our priority lists...  this often means that we don't make the time for things that WE NEED such as fitness classes, date nights, vacations, time to relax and read a book, etc. We are so busy caring for everyone else that we neglect our own needs.  To be healthy physically and emotionally, we need to actively take care of ourselves!  This means getting adequate rest, eating a healthy diet, taking time for fitness and giving ourselves a break from the stress and anxiety that we feel dealing with these allergies.

Here are 5 things you can do RIGHT NOW
to take better care of YOU!


Simply by bringing an awareness to your feelings and acknowledging them is the first step to any positive change. Acknowledge the real stress, anxiety and tension that you hold and feel it. We tend to bury uncomfortable feelings but this does not make them go away. We need to acknowledge them and validate them - the only way out is through.


When we'e afraid, stressed, and anxious we are using our SYMPATHETIC NERVOUS SYSTEM (the infamous "Fight or Flight" response).   This is extremely draining to our body and our mental health. We need to balance things out by enabling our parasympathetic system which gives us rest and restoration.  For me that comes from this place:

For you it could come from:
  • taking time away and allowing someone else to be responsible for everything for a day or two (I know this may sound crazy but we can chat about how this can work).
  • going for a mini-retreat - massage, spa day in town with a friend, etc.
  • taking time to do something that you really enjoy that relaxes you (i.e., enjoying a hot bath)
If you have difficulty relaxing and find that you cannot avoid the anxiety and stress you are feeling even when you try to relax, you may need some help. We can be so chronically stressed that we are unable to turn off this sympathetic response and we are literally wired.  This cannot continue forever and you will end up with health or emotional issues.  If this is what you are dealing with, please get in touch with me for a free phone call or skype consultation to discuss.

3. START FROM THE VERY BEGINNING...Tell me everything!

When I began my website,, I wrote out my story of how allergies have come into my life.  I wrote the entire long-winded tale of my mom's anaphylactic reaction to bees, my seasonal allergies, my son's environmental allergies and the traumatic story of my daughter's anaphylactic reactions, eczema and food allergies.

My husband said to me, "Who on earth is going to read that?"  ... 

Well, first of all it didn't matter who was going to because it felt so good just to write it! Second of all , LOTS OF PEOPLE!  I have had literally hundreds of emails in response to my story including parents, allergic teens, teachers, pharmaceutical companies, and reporters.... It has meant so much to me and them to have my story out there and I am grateful for the connections I have made as a result of sharing my story.

Writing out your story in a journal will help you to express your feelings and emotions and actually takes you out of your emotional brain and into your thinking brain which reduces anxiety and stress by making the emotions less salient. There is some truth to the idea that you should tell your story as many times as you need to to feel better. I am delighted when someone takes the time to share their story with me after reading mine on the website. It is comforting to know you are not alone!


  It sounds ridiculously simple, but did you know that when we are stressed or anxious, we are often breathing very rapidly with shallow breaths or possibly even holding our breath?!  By recognizing moments of stress and anxiety (Back to #1 -awareness & acknowledge) we can then identify when we are feeling stressed or anxious and check in with the breath.  Notice if you are breathing and the quality of the breath - is it shallow or deep? Fast or slow?  Then gently deepen your breath.  Focus on the exhale.  See if you can extend your out breath to be as long as or even up to 2x longer than your inhale breath.  This will calm your nervous system and you down.  Quality breathing is a great way to detoxify from negative thoughts and emotions.  I know that it sounds too simple but trust me on this one.  Consciously improve your breathing and it WILL affect your mood.


Have you ever considered therapy? Did you know that a counselor is a health and wellness professional that is there to provide you with an empathic ear... someone who will listen to your story, without judgement but with compassion.  Psychological health and wellness deserves the same type of care that we provide our physical bodies yet in the case of chronic disease or illness there is rarely this type of support offered to patients or their caregivers. If you have never considered speaking to someone about your feelings and what you are going through - the stress of daily life and the challenges of being a caregiver, I encourage you to try it.

Counseling can help with:
  • stress, anxiety, depression, and trauma
  • strain on family relationships
  • feeling that you are not alone and that you have someone who "gets it"
  • providing a safe space to openly express your fears, feelings and concerns
  • providing tools for handling anxiety, depression or stress


Taking care of yourself allows you to have the energy and ability to take care of others. It does not have to be a choice whether to take care of yourself OR othersIt is not helping anyone to put yourself LAST.

Too often we do this - we compromise our sleep, our fitness, our health because we are so busy caring for others through work or family but the truth is we can and must take care of ourselves

I am offering Counseling & Therapy appointments in the Greater Toronto Area & Via Phone, Facetime or Skype

You will learn that you CAN take care of yourself and that this will help to keep you healthy (physically and emotionally) to be in the best possible shape to help others.

Don't live in the GTA?  Consider a Facetime or SKYPE session!
If you've never tried Skype and are unsure, we can set up a 15 minute session just to get you all set up and make sure everything is working. Skype is very easy to use and basically brings ME into the comfort of your own location (home, office, where ever) for your own personalized yoga class, therapy session or counseling appointment.  Skype is GREAT!

If you have any questions or would like some more information about any of my current offerings, please give me a shout!  I offer a free 15 minute phone or skype consultation -simply click here: to send me an email requesting a call.

Hope to hear from you soon... How about right now?! Share your comments below :)

Allergy-Safe Christmas 2013

I just wanted to send a quick message to all of you to say thank you for being a part of this journey with me.  Your emails, comments, shares on the facebook page, contributions, suggestions and just being a visitor to the site and subscriber to my newsletter means the world to me.  I never would have imagined getting to know so many people as a result of these allergies and I truly am thankful for it!

If you are struggling this holiday with recipe ideas, feelings of anxiety or not knowing how to keep your child safe with their allergies, please don't hesitate to send me a message and ask for help!!!  I am here for you!

I would like to share a few of my favourite holiday treat recipes with you as well:

Kate's FAVOURITE Christmas Treat:
Allergy-Safe Chocolate
Peppermint Patties

These are Kate's absolute favourite treat and I purposefully ONLY MAKE THEM AT CHRISTMAS so that she can be excited all year for them!  

All-purpose Flour*                         3 1/2 tbsp
*(Or alternative allergy-safe flour for your family -i.e., Gluten-free flour)
Allergy-Safe Milk*                         6 tbsp
*(I use Rice Milk -but you can use coconut milk, or other safe alternative for your child)
Icing (Confectioner's) Sugar          3 cups
Peppermint Extract (Flavouring)    3/4 tsp
Allergy Safe Chocolate Chips*       1 1/3 cups
* I use Enjoy LIfe Brand (Free of top allergens)

Mix allergy-safe flour and milk alternative in small saucepan until smooth.  Heat and stir continuously over medium heat until mixture boils and thickens.  Continue until a very thick consistency.  Remove from heat.

Add icing sugar and peppermint flavouring.  Mix well.  Let stand for 5 minutes.  Turn out onto surface dusted with icing sugar.  Knead until smooth, adding more icing sugar as necessary, until no longer sticky.  It will become a playdough type consistency.  Divide into 2 equal portions.  Shape each portion into a log (1" diameter) and wrap in plastic wrap.  Let stand at room temperature overnight.

Cut logs into 1/4" thick slices -reshaping as necessary.  Place on ungreased baking sheets.  Let stand until dry (about an hour) -turning at half-time...

Heat chocolate in small glass bowl over simmering water in small saucepan, stirring occasionally until just melted...   Dip patties into chocolate, allowing excess to drip back into bowl.

Place on foil or waxed paper lined baking sheets.  Make small swirl on top while chocolate is still soft if desired.  Add crushed safe candy cane sprinkles or other safe sprinkles if desired.  Let stand at room temperature until firm.

Makes approx. 5 dozen.
Adapted to be allergy safe from a recipe in "Home for the Holidays" by Jean Pare.

Christmas Morning Cinnamon Swirl Bread
(For breadm
aker but you can make without)

This is a family favourite and is requested by my parents and brother for every family occasion.  It is soooooo good!  Especially warm.  I recommend baking two!!!
water                                             3/4 cup
safe butter alternative*                  1 1/2 tbsp.
*I use coconut oil or earth balance margarine
sugar                                              1 1/2 tbsp.
salt                                                  3/4 tsp.
bread flour*                                     2 cups
*we don't have issues with wheat so I can use this but experiment with alternative safe flours for your family)
yeast                                               1 1/2 tsp.

Combine all above ingredients -in order -in your bread maker.  Set to Dough Cycle.  Mine takes about 2 hours.  If you do not have a bread maker you can do it old school -mixing and kneading the dough.  Giving it time to rise...

Once the dough is ready, roll it out into a large rectangle (approx 1/8" thick).  Mix the following filling ingredients together and spread evenly over the rectangle of dough.

ha ha that is my approximation of a rectangle!
Filling Ingredients:
melted safe butter alternative*            1/4 cup
*coconut oil or earth balance margarine for example
cinnamon                                            1 tbsp.
brown sugar, packed                          3 tbsp.*
*I use 1 instead of 3 if I'm trying to be healthy or wish a less-sweet bread.

Roll up the dough jelly-roll style (the long end) to get a nice big log.  Pinch seam closed and place seam side down on a greased cookie sheet (use your butter alternative for this).  Cover with a clean tea towel and allow to rise for 30-45 minutes.

Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 18-25 minutes.  Bread should make a hollow sound when tapped.

I hope you have a wonderful, safe, and delicious holiday!   Again, please don't hesitate to contact me if you need support!  My gift to you...

I am going to make an allergy-safe gingerbread house with my kids now...ohhhh the things we do as allergy moms!  (and dads!)   ...merry merry!   But let me say that my daughter said at her last allergy appointment,

"I like having allergies because my mom bakes me all kinds of wonderful things."  

Wow.  That was sweet!


Are you afraid of Back to School?!

I just read the article from Today's Parent:  Are Schools Doing Enough?

My comments below the article:As an allergy mom I request the following accommodations from my child’s school that I think are reasonable and fair…

1. Supervision while eating.

Did you know that many schools in Peel region have one adult supervising 4-6 classrooms over the lunch hour. This means children are left unsupervised for the majority of the lunch hour. As a teacher with the board, I personally witnessed children vomiting, standing on tables and running around when teachers were not present. It is not safe for any young child not just those with life threatening food allergies to be unsupervised while eating.

2. Proper cleaning.

I requested that the desks and chairs be properly wiped and floors swept after the children eat -they eat 3 times per day in the classroom -lunch and 2 snack times. I was told that it is NOT the teacher’s job nor the custodians to clean up after the children eat and that if I want this done i would have to come in myself and do it. Which I did for the beginning of the school year. I quickly realized this was not reasonable or reliable as I had to work or could fall ill and that someone in the school needed to be responsible for this. The decision made was to have the children clean up after themselves with wipes. I am not happy with this decision but it is better than nothing. I have seen cheese spread into the carpets following a food fight in the class room (back to the lack of supervision) and my daughter has to sit on that carpet during circle time with her life-threatening dairy allergy.

3. Safe arts and craft materials

-allergens can be hidden in arts and craft materials and sometimes recycled food containers are used. I asked to be notified so that i can read the ingredients and ensure craft materials are safe.

4. Handwashing

-I requested that children wash their hands after eating to help prevent the risk of cross-contamination. This is very difficult for the school to do however as there are just so many children and some classrooms do not have sinks. This year the children are going to use wipes to wipe their hands. I hope this will be effective.

5. Non-food treats or Safe treats.

– I advocate for non-food treats -pencilgrams (where children can purchase a pencil and write a note to be sent to a friend -good fundraiser), books donated in honour of birthdays etc. This promotes literacy too! On the special occasions and holidays where the school would like a food treat given to children I request:
a) An opportunity to recommend a safe treat for all children in the school that is a food item that comes packaged with ingredient label
b) If a) is not possible, the opportunity to be notified in advance so that I can send a comparable safe treat for my allergic child and other allergic children possibly
I do not understand why schools want to give children homemade treats anyway? There is no quality control, no ingredients listed and you have no idea what the safety or contents are of that treat! I also feel that children have access to a lot of treats and most families are trying to encourage healthy choices. Let’s have celebrations with fruit! When I was teaching, I would read the story “Stone Soup” to the children and we would have vegetable soup to celebrate.

Everyone loves treats and I’m not saying there isn’t a time and a place for them. I also ask parents of non-allergic children to try and imagine one of 2 scenarios:

1. Your child being the only one who doesn’t get the treat. The whole point of treats is to bring happiness and smiles to the children. A 6 year old child being the only one not getting a cupcake is just sad :(

2. Your snack causing the death of another child. We saw the recent allergy death of a 13 year old girl (Natalie Giorgio) this summer from eating a bite of a rice krispie square. My heart breaks for her family and for the family that made the treats. It is heartbreaking that food that is perfectly safe and enjoyable for some can kill others. The rate of allergies has risen from 1-2 % of our population in the early part of this decade to 7.5%!!! These allergies are becoming more and more prevalant! I ask you to imagine if it was your child who all of a sudden was deathly allergic to milk. It is terrifying to send your child to school with yogurt, milk, pizza with cheese and their life-threatening allergen everywhere. Try to put yourself in that mom’s shoes. Thank you!!!!!

What do you think?

What do you request from your child's school as far as accommodations to keep your child safe?  In the United States there are 504 plans for these kids which recognizes their allergies as disabilities.  I have been trying to advocate for these here in Canada but without success.  The schools and Ministry are not recognizing Anaphylaxis as a disability.  What could be more disabling than the risk of death caused by food that is all around you every day?!    For my child with a life-threatening dairy allergy, the milk, pizza, cheese, and yogurt that her classmates bring to school is a poison.  It is terrifying for her and us to imagine what would happen if she accidentally ingested milk or had a reaction from touching contaminated supplies or furniture.


You can snag a deal on the first air filter that has been certified asthma & allergy friendlyTM by the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA)

Click here to buy and enter the discount code “Melissa” (that’s me!) for 25% off and free shipping on the site. 

This code expires at the end of August so don't miss out!

In our society we are often reactive rather than proactive -this means we wait for things to get bad before we do something about them.  This is why we are more likely to buy medicine than vitamins for example.  While air filters aren't exciting or fun they certainly do have a huge impact on your health!

August 26th:  Severe Allergy & Anaphylaxis Support Group Meeting in Oakville, ON.

The meetings are intended to provide emotional support to individuals and families.  Upcoming topics include:
Aug. 26th:  Back to School & Handling the Emotional Trauma of Allergy Deaths (Natalie Giorgio)
Sept. 30th:  Back to School (How has the first month gone?!) & Marriage -The impact of food allergies on a marriage
Oct. 28th:  Hallowe'en Safety for Food Allergies & Community Relationships (Advocating and educating for empathy in your local community)
Nov. 25:  Holiday Season -Handling the holiday stress, parties, and social events with food allergies & Extended Family Relationships (Emotional Support for the stress on extended family relationships when dealing with life-threatening food allergies)

Email me @ to RSVP.

Could The Epinephrine Have Killed Her?

I had an email from a teacher who was curious about the death of Natalie Giorgio (the 13 year old who died after eating a rice krispie treat made with peanut butter). 

Natalie had a known peanut allergy.  She took a bite of the treat and immediately suspected she shouldn't have and brought it to her mom.  Her mom agreed that there was peanut butter in the treat. 

They waited to see what would happen - was that the fatal mistake???  Some are saying that is the reason why she died: Delaying administration of the epinephrine.    

Here is her question:

This is so tragic, I feel for the family so much.  Melissa, did this happen because the epi's were applied too late?  That they can be ineffective if not administered immediately??  I am curious as to why they may have waited if they knew there was peanut butter.  Even IF there was any doubt one would give the epi's anyway wouldn't one?  Do you have any ideas??  I'm just trying to understand this situation.
Here was my response to Jane:

My allergist has told me that most of the deaths due to allergies occur with people who had a known allergy and failed to administer epi or delayed administration.  There was another death recently where the boy also received the dose later and died.   In the event that a known allergen is ingested they recommend IMMEDIATE ADMINISTRATION OF EPI.

My mom is anaphylactic to bee stings...

Her and I were discussing the tragedy of this case and the fact that they gave 3 epi-pens.  My mother mentioned that when she was in hospital the doctors told her it would be dangerous to give her any more epinephrine.  Could 3 doses have been too much?

So many questions..

  • Why did they wait?
  • It is said she started to show signs of a reaction 20 minutes after ingesting the treat.  Did they administer the epipen immediately upon these symptoms or did they wait longer?
  • Could the epi-pens have caused her death?  Were 3 doses too much? 
What do you think?  What would you do?  If you or your child ingested a known allergen do you think you would delay administering the epi-pen or would you give it right away?  Are you afraid to administer epinephrine?

Are the "experts" on the same page??

One of the things that I am noticing is that all of us are getting different answers from the doctors.  Some are being told to give benadryl and epi.   Some are told never to give benadryl for anaphylaxis.  Some are told to wait and see and others are told administer immediately.

My advice? 

Give epi immediately for known ingestion of a food allergen.

One more piece of advice if I may...

The common thread I see in most of the allergy deaths is that people are eating food that they have not prepared themselves.  We have a rule for our daughter that she is only allowed to eat food that I or her father has prepared.  Even still, we fear mislabeling on food ingredients and undeclared allergens or the risk of cross-contamination.    We all do our best to keep our children safe.

Let's support each other, not JUDGE...

It saddens me when I see the comments below articles such as the one of Natalie's death where members of our allergy community criticize the family for their actions and inactions.  Really?!!  Come on.  In the support group I host I advocate for non-judgement.  Those parents were doing the best they could for their daughter and they are now sharing their story with the press to publicize this death to promote advocacy and education or the public on the severity of these food allergies.  I send them my love and prayers.

An Allergy Mom always checks ingredients -but what about the ingredients in our Air?!

Indoor Air Quality -
An Allergy Mom always checks ingredients -but what about the ingredients in our AIR?!!

My life was forever changed when my children started suffering from their respective allergies.  All of a sudden I was forced to become hyper-aware of the ingredients in our food, our personal care products, and cleaning products.   I contacted many experts to learn as much as I could about how to make our home environment safer and was surprised to learn the importance of Indoor Air Quality for keeping my home safest for my kids.  I hadn’t considered the ingredients in the very air we breathe!  I had never really given air quality much thought and to be honest, I was making some of the worst possible mistakes that I could once I learned more!  Oops!   For example, using my basement as a dumping ground for cardboard boxes that can get moldy, having an untreated concrete floor that literally grows dust, and accumulating piles of dust-collecting junk.  I am embarrassed to admit that we even let my parents who are big smokers, smoke down there!!  What I learned from the indoor air expert that came to my home was that the furnace in our basement is actually the lungs of our home and that the basement of all places should have the CLEANEST air possible as this air was literally being pumped throughout our home.  

This is when I learned the keys to having the best possible indoor air quality for my home and I will share these with all of you in this series of blog posts.

I Am Not Alone

It turns out, I’m not the only mom who has made this same mistake!  Despite our efforts to live healthier, “greener” lives, many of us out there don’t think about the air in our homes and how it impacts the health of our families.  

Why should we care?
  • We spend more time indoors now than ever before -in fact, we spend more than 90% of our time indoors!1
  • Our homes are built better and although that sounds like a good thing -it actually means that we have homes that are more airtight -sealing in the air and not allowing as much exchange with fresh air from outdoors. It is very likely that your house does not have adequate fresh air!2  
  • Our airtight homes trap in the harmful gasses that come from the off-gassing of carpets, flooring, furniture and other building materials, VOCs and other chemicals.  We are literally trapping pollutants into the air we breathe.3
  • Improving Indoor Air Quality is one of the most important changes you can make to improve allergies and asthma symptoms.4

What can we do?

Let’s start by removing allergens and pollutants that make their way into the home with proper air filtration.  If your home has a furnace, this can be made easy by having a good quality air filter.  Have you ever changed the air filter in your furnace?  Did you even know you had one?  It’s ok if you answer no to these questions!  You can admit if you’re scared to venture down into the depths of the basement and have never gone near your furnace!  

Now’s the time to put on the super mommy cape (or get your husband to go down there ha ha) and check out your air filter in your furnace.  The standard filters that come with the furnace are not going to cut it.  The expert I had come into my home told me those things allow rocks through!  What we want is something that is going to get microscopic, particulates such as pollen, dust, mold, and pet dander out of our air.   

Using a high-efficiency air filter is one of the least expensive -and most effective -things you can do to remove harmful allergens and pollutants from the air in your home, improving your indoor air quality and the health of your family.

An Asthma & Allergy Friendly Solution:

There is a new brand of Air Filters on the market by Lysol that are the first ones to be certified asthma & allergy friendlyTM by the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA).  These filters:
  • are chemical-free
  • trap pollutants and allergens
  • neutralize odors naturally
  • inhibit the growth of bacteria using a mineral-based, antimicrobial agent
  • reduce pollen by 95%
  • reduce dust mites in the air by 92%
  • reduce pet dander by 85%
  • leave you with cleaner, fresher, healthier indoor air -for a healthier family.

Want one?

You can snag a deal on the first air filter that has been certified asthma & allergy friendlyTM by the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA).  Click here to buy and enter the discount code “Melissa” (that’s me!) for 25% off and free shipping on the site.  This code is active for fans of The Allergy Mom through August!

  1. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. 1989. Report to Congress on indoor air quality: Volume 2. EPA/400/1-89/001C. Washington, DC.
  2. “How to Get the Ventilation That You Need in Your House”
  3. “Care for Your Air: A Guide to Indoor Air Quality” by the EPA: United States Environmental Protection Agency.
  4. “Tips to Control Indoor Allergens”  by the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America.

Another tragic loss to Peanut Allergy

13 year old girl dies after ingesting Peanut Butter treat.

I have copied an article below on the tragedy or you can watch the video here:

The Story:  

It was supposed to be the last day of a family vacation at a popular summer camp, but it ended in tragedy for one Sacramento-area family when a loved one had a fatal allergic reaction.  Relatives say 13-year-old Natalie Giorgi died from a severe allergic reaction to peanut butter while she was attending Camp Sacramento off Highway 50 in El Dorado County.
Now, the family says it really wants to get the message out about how dangerous and deadly food allergies can be.
Giorgi was very careful about what she ate and always made sure her food did not have nuts, according to family and friends.  But she had unknowingly eaten a Rice Krispies-type snack made with peanut butter.  On Friday night, the final night of camp, there was entertainment and refreshments. A dessert tray was put out in a dark area of the camp.
Giorgi reached for a treat and took a bite out of it. She knew something wasn't right, spit it out and told her mother, who also tasted the treat.  They later realized it contained peanut butter.

Natalie felt fine for about 20 minutes, but then began vomiting, had trouble breathing and went into cardiac arrest.

3 epinephrine pens were used but they could not help save the girl, according to a family friend.
Giorgi was taken to the hospital by ambulance where she was pronounced dead.  Family and friends are coming to terms with Giorgi's sudden death.
"She took every care. She knew the situation, that's (connected to) the allergy she had. And they were really on it all the time," said Pastor Michael Kiernan of Our Lady of the Assumption Church in Carmichael.  A special vigil was held at the church for Giorgi Sunday evening.   Some say they'll remember her smile and laughter. Others will remember how much she loved to draw and how much she loved her friends.  Her family said Giorgi wanted to become a neonatologist, to care for premature babies like her and her twin sister.
Meanwhile, family members extended their gratitude to the paramedics, firefighters and everyone who tried to help save Natalie.
They offered the following written statement:
"While our hearts are breaking over the tragic loss of our beautiful daughter Natalie, it is our hope that others can learn from this and realize that nut and food allergies are life threatening. Caution and care for those inflicted should always be supported and taken."
An allergist said food allergies and nut allergies have tripled in the past decade. He says more people need to understand the dangers of food allergies and that they can sometimes be fatal.
By Suzanne Phan,

My Thoughts:

I am so saddened by the news of the 13 year old dying at camp - it is exhausting trying to be strong and keep a cool head when other parents in my community make comments like "that mom needs to lighten up" or a nurse who tells the other parents my daughter isn't at risk when their children pack her allergens for lunch at school- I try to live a normal life and not be afraid but then you read a story like this and are reminded there is no margin for error - we must keep our daughter safe and avoid her allergens. Heartbreaking.

The take-aways from this for me are:

  • NEVER eat food that you haven't prepared and brought yourself (you know the old saying "Dance with the one who brought you" ?  Well I apply that to social situations when dealing with food allergies -only eat the stuff you brought! 
  • Administer epinephrine IMMEDIATELY upon accidental ingestion of a known allergen -do not wait for symptoms.
  • Research other medications to have on hand?  There have been a lot of comments in regards to this article and I have been told that other families carry more than epinephrine but this has never been recommended or offered to my family.  I intend to research the alternatives and will report back to you on what I find.
  • EDUCATE FOR EMPATHY -some of the comments that have been posted in response to this article show a lack of empathy -very saddening comments such as "Why should I deprive my grandchild of peanut butter when she loves it?" etc.  We need to continue to share these stories so that the non-allergic public understands how deadly food allergies can be.

What do you think? 

Lights, Camera, Allergies!

Lights, Camera, Allergies!

Allergies & Asthma at the Movies

I took my 2 kids and one of my son's friends to the movies on Saturday night -that's right -one adult -3 kids…what could possibly go wrong? ha ha

My daughter who is severely allergic to dairy, peanuts and treenuts (anaphylactic) often gets snuffy at the movies -we wipe the seat down but in this particular theatre the seats were cloth not vinyl or plastic so not very wipe-able. We buy her safe treats or bring our own from home. Half way through the movie she started to complain that she felt like she was going to vomit ("puke" in 6 year old terms) and that her throat felt funny. Instant worry and anxiety -could she be having a reaction to the traces of unsafe ingredients in the theatre???

We went to the bathroom -missing a good portion of the movie -to make sure she was o.k. While in there, I could hear a woman in another stall retching and making sounds like she was vomiting! When we came out of the stall, the woman was at the sink, washing her face. I asked her if she was o.k. and she said she thought she was having an asthma attack and that she forgot her puffers at home. She said that all of a sudden while in the movie with her 3 kids, she couldn't breathe. She went to the bathroom (which I told her she shouldn't do!! -Don't want to be alone in case of an emergency! but that's what people do b/c they are embarrassed and feeling sick right?)… She was itching her ear and grabbing her throat and hacking.

 I asked her if it was possible that this was an allergic reaction rather than asthma and she said yes. I asked her if she had her epi-pen and she said she had left that at home also. All of a sudden I felt a worry that I might have to use the epipens I had to help this woman and what if my daughter got worse and I didn't have enough?!

 What a stressful situation! I asked her if I could call for medical help but she said no. She was feeling ok and wanted to wait for her children. I asked her to please wait outside in the lobby where there were many other people so that if she had a problem someone could help her. She was gone when I came back out so I hope she was o.k. I worried about her the whole rest of the movie. My daughter was fine and I suspect she was bored rather than actually having problems. Ahhhhh what an UNENJOYABLE night at the movies! Next time I will rent one!!!

What experiences have you had with allergies or asthma at the movies?

Severe Allergy & Anaphylaxis Support -Locally & Virtually!

You are not Alone!

This is the message that most of us need to hear most.  I get frequent emails from allergy moms and dads who find my website and read my story and exclaim, "I'm so happy to know that I am not alone!".   Having severe allergies & anaphylaxis in the family can make individuals and their caregivers feel isolated.  This is not easy -there is definitely an emotional toll and REAL PSYCHOLOGICAL STRESS that comes along with this diagnosis.

I just wanted to take this opportunity to share the support that is available to you -locally and virtually!   This is merely a starting point.  I would be THRILLED if all of you can comment below this article  and share your favourite resources -LOCAL TO YOU and Online!   Thank you!!!

LOCAL TO ME (& Hopefully Many of You!):

Last month we had our first meeting of the NEW SEVERE ALLERGY & ANAPHYLAXIS SUPPORT GROUP in Halton Region at the beautiful Clarity Centre in Oakville.  I hope to see everyone back again at the next meeting and some new faces too!   Please join us for an evening of support, discussion and sharing.  The focus for this next meeting will be on Group Counseling for Anaphylaxis:  To help with the Psychological Stress which may include:
  • Trauma of having experienced a reaction
  • Anxiety about the risk of a future reaction
  • Feelings of Depression or Isolation
  • Stress and Emotional Distress

Highlights from the June Meeting:

Our first meeting was a success!  The feedback I received from those in attendance was positive.  Here are some comments from those in attendance:

"Thank you so much for bringing our allergy group together.  I really enjoyed the meeting and I appreciate your efforts in bringing us together to support one another.  I realised as the meeting progressed that this is exactly what I need.  I've prided myself in holding it all together, gathering information, and putting together a plan of action.  But all along, I think the emotional support, from others in the same situation, is the part that has been missing for me.  It's very hard for many people to truly identify with the unique challenges we face in raising our children with life-threatening food allergies.  Like you, I left a job that had once been so meaningful but meeting the needs of my son was not possible for me if I continued to work.   My son has other health issues; however the food allergies are, by far, the most concerning.   Dealing with a potentially life-threatening condition is quite daunting, and having this acknowledged this evening, really helped me.   I felt like my feelings were validated.  As a family, we really try to live our lives focusing on the positives, and being thankful for all that we have, but the day-to-day task (and stress/fear) can really take a toll.  I hope the group will continue.  Thank you so much!"

"I would just like to say Thank you for organizing the meeting last night. I think personally it was a good turn out for a first meeting! I would love to see more of those meetings in my future."

"...thank you again for the support group, we are so glad that we attended! I was wondering if it was possible to get the links to the websites that you posted during the slide show? Also, I was wondering if anyone wanted to share contact info? I would love to get together with some of the ladies and their kids for playdates :)"

**To answer the question there about connecting, I am encouraging everyone to use The Allergy Mom Facebook page for this purpose.  See more information below under Virtual Support.


I just want to take the opportunity again to thank Sweets from the Earth for their generous donation of cookies for our first meeting!

Door Prizes:  Michelle Nel Chow, Allergy Mama & author of To be a Nut or Not and Leslie Berlin, Allergy Mom & Author of OK 4 Me 2 Eat were both kind enough to offer copies of their books as door prizes for our meeting!  I have not yet drawn the names for the books and will do so at the July Meeting.   The names from those in attendance at our June meeting have been collected and we will draw for this prize at the beginning of our July meeting!  Good luck!!  What a sweet prize!!

Other Local Canadian Support Groups:

  • Mississauga Anaphylaxis Support Group:  Mississauga, Ontario
             Contact Penny Anderson:
  • Toronto Anaphylaxis Education Grop:  Toronto, Ontario
             Contact Sarah at
  • Other Canadian Support Groups can be found on Anaphylaxis Canada's website here
***If we have missed yours, please add your support group information to the comments section below the blog post to let us know!  U.S. support groups too please!

Worth Considering:

  • Counseling & Therapy Services -I offer counseling and support services in my local area for individuals and families.   These services include home visits to help you make your home safer, support for newly diagnosed, counseling on how to advocate and educate for "reasonable risk reduction" and "educating for empathy".  I also offer therapy for dealing with the psychological stress.  For more information visit:  I work with clients locally and via skype.  If you are suffering from stress, anxiety, trauma, depression or other related psychological distress, please contact me for more information.

Virtual Support:

Here are some links for support on the internet or via skype.  Even if you are not local, there is support for you!  I know that this list is only touching the surface of what's out there but here are a few of my favourite online support sites.  Please add your faves to the comments section of the blog to share!  Thank you!
Both of these are my websites -The Allergy Mom started as a support website for parents of allergic children but has grown to provide information and support for individuals and their families.  Allergy Safety Training is the website I have created to advertise the training services I provide.  I work with Peel Region to educate daycare and preschool providers on Anaphylaxis and Severe Allergy Safety Training through the Raising the Bar program.  I offer training to individuals, families, educational facilities, recreation centre staff, hospitals and anyone interested in making the world safer for those with severe allergies and anaphylaxis.  If you would like a training for your family or child's school, please contact me.

I encourage you to use the facebook page for connecting with each other.  There were many requests at the support group to create a page for the members but if it works for everyone, I would love to see the existing Facebook page for THE ALLERGY MOM used for this purpose.  This is a great way to connect with each other, share stories, VENT!, share news articles, offer services or tell about good ones, etc...  If you are cool sharing on that page I think that would be best as it will benefit all of those who like the page to see this information also!  Thank you!
A website for support -sharing of discussions, news stories, videos, polls - a community driven website -membership is free.  This is a great place to post questions, share stories, and meet other people who deal with similar allergies, eczema, asthma and anaphylaxis.
This is a great new website recently launched by Anaphylaxis Canada to provide support for those newly diagnosed.
I love this course -it is informative, educational and comprehensive and free!   This is a wonderful way to educate grandparents and babysitters on how to keep your allergic child safe while they are watching them.

I would also like to offer the Canadian Anaphylaxis Initiative (CAI) Website as a contact for Debbie Bruce -Debbie is the winner of the Queen's Diamond Jubilee award for her work advocating and educating others on Allergies & Anaphylaxis.  The CAI is working hard to implement their action plan for making Canada safer for those with severe allergies and anaphylaxis.  Check out their site and find out how you can help them!

That's enough for now!   Please let me know if you can (and I hope you will!) join me for the upcoming meeting in Oakville, Ontario on July 29th!   Thank you!

NY Times Article on Food Allergy Bullying

In Bullies’ Hands, Nuts or Milk May Be a Weapon

Any difference can set schoolchildren apart from their peers and potentially make them a target for bullying. But a severe food allergy is a unique vulnerability: It takes only one lunch or cupcake birthday party for other children to know which classmates cannot eat nuts, eggs, milk or even a trace of wheat.

It can take longer for them to grasp how frightening it is to live with a life-threatening allergy.
Surprisingly, classmates may prey on this vulnerability, plotting to switch a child’s lunch to see if she gets sick, for example, or spitting milk at a child’s face and causing a swift anaphylactic reaction.

In a recent survey of 251 sets of parents and children with food allergies, published in Pediatrics in January, roughly a third of the children reported being bullied for their allergies. Parents knew about the threatening behavior only half the time.

Dr. Robert Wood, the director of pediatric allergy at Johns Hopkins Children’s Center in Baltimore, gets “very frequent reports” of bullying from patients and their parents, he said. Just last week, one child’s face was touched with peanut butter, endangering the child. Typically, bullying is not as extreme, but the phenomenon has “been there the whole time,” he said.

Now, however, the issue is starting to earn attention. In May, Food Allergy Research and Education, a nonprofit group in McLean, Va., released a public service announcement highlighting the issue that featured a pupil lamenting the cafeteria as a “scary place.” It has more than 17,000 views on YouTube, has been shown on the CW network, and spurred dozens of parents to share unnerving anecdotes on the group’s Facebook page.

“Bullying should never be regarded as a rite of passage,” said John Lehr, the chief executive of the group. “It’s never a joke, but food allergy bullying is really not a joke because someone can be taken to the emergency room.”

Children’s National Medical Center in Washington just hired a psychologist to join its food allergy program, in part to help young patients who feel isolated or are being bullied. Dr. Hemant P. Sharma, the director of the program, said a third of the center’s patients report being bullied.
Every few months, a child recounts being force-fed an allergen, Dr. Sharma said, adding, “Even if it’s just a child who feels singled out because of their food allergy, it compounds the emotional burden.”

Indeed, some children with food allergies get distressed or anxious. Dr. Wood routinely sends children to a psychologist “because they won’t touch a doorknob or use a bathroom, because they fear inadvertent exposure to their allergen.”

The Jaffe Food Allergy Institute at Mount Sinai Medical Center in Manhattan not only offers children and parents counseling after bullying, but will call principals on a patient’s behalf.

Victims of bullying don’t always tell their parents. But Miles Monroe, 8, of Bethesda, Md., who is allergic to milk, eggs and wheat, told his that he didn’t feel comfortable in the lunchroom after a classmate held a Kit Kat candy wrapper near his face and kept chanting, “You can’t eat this!”
Miles wasn’t “scared he would get sick from it, but he felt attacked,” said Courteney Monroe, 44, his mother and the chief marketing officer for National Geographic Channel. Miles’s understanding teacher nipped the problem in the bud by talking to the yeller about what it would be like if he could not eat his favorite food (bad), or got teased about it (worse), or had to go to the hospital if he ate it (until then, that outcome was inconceivable).

Not every teacher is as concerned. “Food allergy-related bullying does not always stem from peers, but from adults, such as teachers,” said Elisabeth Stieb, a nurse at the Food Allergy Center at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.

At least 15 states have guidelines for management of food allergies in schools, and many tackle bullying specifically. Texas guidelines urge “zero tolerance for bullying related to food allergy.” Arizona’s guidelines suggest cafeteria monitors be trained to “intervene quickly to help prevent trading of food or bullying activities.”

Bullying is distinct from ordinary teasing. What separates them is not only a power differential between the children, said Dr. Rashmi Shetgiri, a pediatrician and researcher at University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, but that “someone is intentionally trying to harm someone else.”

Just as cyberbullies use electronic devices to hurt others, food allergy bullies “are asserting their power using the allergen,” Dr. Shetgiri said.

Canadian government recognizes Anaphylaxis and passes Motion 230!

Victory! After all of the hard work and advocacy, Canadian Anaphylaxis Initiative announces the passing of Motion M-230 with a UNANIMOUS decision in support of the Anaphylaxis Motion!

Here is the press release from CAI:

Members of Parliament pass Anaphylaxis Awareness Motion – May 22, 2013

Parliament_buildingMembers of Parliament pass Anaphylaxis Awareness Motion
Canadian Anaphylaxis Initiative pleased with “step in right direction”
May 23, 2013 – OTTAWA – MPs’ votes in the House of Commons last night included the passing of Motion 230, a motion to raise awareness of anaphylaxis, a life-threatening medical condition brought on by severe allergies. This is welcomed news for family members of the Canadian Anaphylaxis Initiative (CAI), a volunteer network of concerned families who have been working with MPs to raise awareness of severe allergies in Ottawa.
The anaphylaxis motion passed with unanimous, all-Party support. Niagara West-Glanbrook MP Dean Allison initiated the debate in the House of Commons, moving: That in the opinion of the House, anaphylaxis is a serious concern for an increasing number of Canadians and the government should take the appropriate measures necessary to ensure these Canadians are able to maintain a high quality of life.
“By bringing more attention and awareness to the Canadian public, our debate in Parliament has helped Canadians understand the signs, dangers and consequences of an anaphylactic reaction,” said MP Dean Allison. “With the passing of this motion, Canadians living with anaphylaxis receive much needed recognition from our government. We stand with them in their efforts to promote awareness of the condition.”
“We thank Dean, and MP Rick Dykstra before him, for raising our concerns for a more focused approach to the issues of anaphylaxis in successive Parliaments,” says Ms. Paskey, a CAI founder present in the House of Commons gallery for the vote. “We are so pleased to have such overwhelming support for greater awareness. It’s a step in the right direction and we hope MPs and officials in Ottawa will follow through with some important actions which can provide greater safety for a growing number of Canadians coping with anaphylaxis.”
The CAI has identified 5 policy areas that Ottawa can review that include:
  • Federal Coordination – of programs and services dealing with anaphylaxis and food allergy information
  • Coordinated Awareness Campaigns – of national, general public information initiatives and accurate and targeted information to specific professional groups
  • Long Term Commitment to Research – supporting a strategic response and more dollars for research
  • Improved Allergen Labeling – for foods, drugs, cosmetic and personal care products
  • Improved Transportation Safeguards– relating to airline and public transportation policies that reduce risks for food allergic passengers
“Our group of families would like to see the increased awareness of the condition spur progress on the 5 policy areas, all which are in line with Motion 230.” Ms. Paskey adds, “There is a constituency of thousands of families across Canada who will support MPs who wish to pursue activities, whether it is with Health Canada, or in the MPs’ health committee, or a more accommodating allergy policy for airlines.”

My hopes:

I am so hopeful that the passing of this motion will translate into action on the goals that CAI has outlined above.
  • I really hope to see awareness and education of the general (non-allergic) public to help create understanding and empathy for the reality and severity of life-threatening allergy and anaphylaxis.  
  • Obviously research is HUGE.... there is NO CURE for anaphylaxis and AVOIDANCE is the only proactive strategy we currently have for preventing reactions.  It will be great to have funding allocated to research!
  • With regards to CAI's suggestions for airline travel, this is something I would really like to see as I sit here typing in my hotel room in Austria -visiting friends and family with my son but having left my severely allergic daughter at home (she is very sad to be missing this trip) because I did not feel that it would be safe for her to fly overseas with her life-threatening dairy and nut allergies. 
  • Federal programs and services -I am hoping to be involved in some capacity to offer my knowledge and expertise as an allergy advocate and educator to support the development and implementation of new policies for anaphylaxis safety in public venues and programs.  I am the founder of and offer education and training for allergy and anaphylaxis safety. 
I just want to take an opportunity to thank Debbie Bruce, Cindy Paskey and of course all of the MPs who made this possible.

From the bottom of my heart,



Melissa Scheichl
(aka The Allergy Mom!)

If you need support at your place of business, I do offer training!  Please contact me for more information.

Letters that fall on deaf ears...

I was recently contacted by a woman from Ottawa who is an allergy mom and looking to get some media involvement to share the stories of how parents are trying to work with school boards to make schools safer for children with severe allergies, asthma and anaphylaxis.  I went through all of the letters and emails I have written over this past school year and thought I would share them with all of you.  Many of these emails have been unanswered yet I persevere trying to get my voice heard.  If you know of anyone interested in sharing my stories, please have them contact me.  Thank you!  Please share your comments below this post and let me know what you think about these emails.  I want to hear from you!  Thanks!!!


Emails and Letters from an Allergy Mom to keep her Child Safe at School.  


Date: April 23, 2013.

To: Honourable Members of Parliament:  Dean Allison, Leona Aglukkaq, Colin Carrie, Djaouida Sellah, Hedy Fry, Rick Dykstra, Tarik Brahmi, Stella Ambler.

Dear Honourable Members of Parliament,

I have just read through the presentation of Motion 230 (Anaphylaxis) from the April 19th debate.  As a passionate advocate and educator for Anaphylaxis and Severe Allergy in Canada, I would like to personally thank each of you for speaking to this important health issue.  I have been personally affected by anaphylaxis as I have a mother who is severely anaphylactic to bee stings, a son with severe allergies and a young daughter who has had near-death reactions due to her anaphylactic food allergies to all dairy, eggs, peanuts and tree nuts.  In fact, I believe her story was read at a previous reading of this motion to the house of commons. 

As you all know, anaphylaxis is not well understood by those not directly affected but with the dramatic increase in prevalence there have been more stories showing up in the media about this condition.  I have been writing to the Minister of Health, Minister of Education, my local MPs and MPPs and appealing to Anaphylaxis Canada and the school boards for greater advocacy, education and reasonable risk reduction measures to be implemented.   I run a website for allergic caregivers (, I provide trainings (, primarily to preschool and daycare facilities in the region of Peel through the CRDC here, I have been asked to be the community advocate for Severe Allergy which will be launched next month and I have lunched with the president and CEO of Sanofi Canada, Jon Fairest to discuss the launch of the new Allerject epineprhine autoinjector.  I am very involved with this community and eager to educate.  Unfortunately I often feel as if I am "preaching to the converted" so to speak.  I would like to have a voice to speak to the greater public and am hoping that with your support we can make that happen.

I have been bounced back and forth from the school board telling me to contact the ministry and the ministry telling me to contact the school boards. I was very inspired by Ms. Fry's comments to take action and am writing to you today to offer my services in any way possible to formulate an action plan for educating the public on anaphylaxis, for developing policies and for supporting research.    

I would be absolutely thrilled to hear back from any of you with your suggestions on how I can support the cause and work with you to make this happen.

Thank you for your time and consideration of this matter.


Melissa Scheichl (f.Pearson)
B.A., B.Ed., M.Ed.

Date:April 21, 2013.

To: mps, mpps, Minister of Education, Superintendents



Hello there,

I am not really sure who the best person is to get in contact with regarding these matters but thought I would start here and if any of you have recommendations for another party I should be contacting regarding these types of concerns, please do let me know.

First of all I would like to thank you for taking a moment out of your busy day to read this email.  I have a few items I would like to discuss for your consideration.

1.  There is an excellent video which I am sure you are already aware of but just in case wanted to share it here:

10 Tips for Managing Food Allergy in Schools -

10 conseils sur la prise en charge des allergies alimentaires à l'école -

Anaphylaxis Canada has sent this out as a mid-year reminder for staff and volunteers in schools and I am hoping this is being shared at every school.  I really appreciated the points on the importance of supervision, proper cleaning after eating and of being empathic to parents of children with severe food allergies as to their fears of leaving their children at school.  In the schools in my region (Peel), there is often only one parent available to supervise 4-6 classrooms during the lunch hour.  This is a huge concern for parents of children with anaphylaxis and other life-threatening conditions surrounding food.  In the U.S. children with anaphylaxis are deemed to have a disability and therefore have a 504 plan.  In Canada, I would like to see these children also being provided with accommodations of supervision and cleaning for their special health concerns.  As far as cleaning is concerned, Anaphylaxis Canada recommends that tables and surfaces should be cleaned yet schools are advising parents that this is not possible.  They are told that it is neither the teacher's nor the custodian's responsibility to clean up after the children eat.  This means that children are eating 3x per day in the classroom without cleaning of surfaces to provide a safe learning environment for these children.  You can imagine the anxiety and risk to children with life-threatening allergies to be forced to work in a classroom contaminated by their allergens.  I was told that the teacher at my child's school cannot clean the tables for risk of being liable if she does not do a good enough job and something happens to my daughter.  I ask, "Who is liable if nobody cleans it at all?". 

2. Re: Epinephrine:  I have been trying to contact the board (Special Programs) about this next point but my phone call was not returned.   The policy really ought to be that the second epi-pen be taken with students when they leave the building for field trips etc.   I was speaking with my paediatric allergist about this as well and she confirmed the necessity of this.  The reality is that epinephrine has a 12 % failure rate and often a second dose can be required 10 minutes after the initial dose.  You do not want to be away from the school with the second pen sitting in the office.

3.  Allerject is a brand new epinephrine autoinjector on the market.  It is fabulous.  It has voice commands to guide you through the administration of the medication. I have trainers for these if you would like me to come in to schools (staff meeting)  and educate your staff on how to use these new devices.  Alternatively I could provide an online training video for you.

4.  I would also offer free of charge an information session at the board office for parents of non-allergic students to address their questions and concerns regarding the requested accommodations at schools for children with food allergies.  Please let me know if you are interested in this.  I have been providing training for the past few years through the Region of Peel's CDRC (Child Development Resource Connection) "Raising the Bar" program for preschool and daycare educators in the region and the feedback has been extremely positive with teachers saying they feel much more comfortable after the trainings to have children with anaphylaxis in the classroom.  I answer questions regarding administration of epinephrine and reasonable risk reduction measures to prevent reactions at school.  The measures including cleaning, and identifying hidden sources of allergens (in craft materials, etc).

5.  Exclusion is a very real problem for children with anaphylaxis in schools.  As is bullying.  There is NO OTHER DISEASE where schools would suggest that children be excluded because of their disability yet with allergy and anaphylaxis children are asked to leave the school on pizza days, or to be excluded from school-wide celebrations such as food parties.   At my daughter's school on valentine's day, other classes in the school were having parties with cakes, and chocolates and candies and her class did not because of her allergies.  While I appreciate this fully as her parent who wants to keep her safe, there is a problem with this approach.  The kids in her class are aware of the other classes having these parties and they know that the reason why they don't have the same party is because of the allergic child.  This puts this child in the horrible position of being blamed, teased or bullied by the other children who are upset that they do not get to have the same.  I would like to see an emphasis on non-food treats such as books or pencils that promote literacy (pencil grams are a great fundraiser and non-food alternative).  I understand that food is a big part of our social culture and that we all like to have treats but I do not understand why schools want the liability of providing treats to children that are homemade.  There is no quality control or control over the ingredients with homemade products being brought in.  As for packaged goods, there are choices that can accommodate all the children in the school when it is absolutely necessary to have food treats.  For example, at my child's school they replaced the ice-cream party with freezies.  I would like to suggest that the schools have only a child's parents feed their own children.  I requested the following accommodation at my child's school and would love to see this put into policy:

For Celebrations:
1.  First consider a non-food alternative.
2.  Second consider a treat that is inclusive of all children.
3. If this is not possible, notify the allergic children's families with enough time that the family could make alternative arrangements for their child (a comparable "safe" treat).  

In my dream world as an allergy mom, children would not eat in the classrooms.  There would be a cafeteria or they would eat in the gym and that space would be supervised and properly cleaned.   I know that this means there are a lot more children in one space but if there was adequate supervision and cleaning, I think this would be a much better option than contaminating the classroom.  I know that this is not financially possible but had to put it out there!

Thank you for your time and consideration of my suggestions.  According to Allergen, the nation's leading Allergy and Anaphylaxis Research institute:  There is an epidemic of allergies like asthma, hay fever, eczema, food and pet allergies and life-threatening anaphylaxis facing the industrialized world, and Canada is near the top of the list of nations facing a growing problem. Nearly one in three Canadians now suffers some form of allergic illness. The health care and socio-economic costs are huge and the potential impact on our next generation is extreme.  These allergies are not going away and are getting worse.  EPIDEMIC.   This is something we need to really address in our school system.

Date: April 12, 2013.

To: Principal of Child's school



Hi Greg,

Have you seen this video from anaphylaxis Canada?  It is great.  It would be great to share with staff.

I was very happy to see this and thought the content was great! Loved the part recognizing the fears of parents to leave their child at school- very good for empathy.  I also really liked seeing the direction to leave the child supine as that is very critical and many people do not know that. I liked the recommendation for cleaning.  Personally I would like to see food out of the classroom altogether - cafeterias instead. That way the classroom could be a safer environment. I liked the recommendation for non-food treats- have to promote inclusion. I would have liked to see a comment about supervision as the reality is many of our schools have the children eating virtually unsupervised- 1 teacher or parent for 4-6 classrooms. I feel very strongly that this is inappropriate for all children with risks of choking and allergies, diabetes etc.

Melissa Scheichl (f. Pearson)
Sent from my iPhone

Date: October 21, 2012.

To: Principal of my child's school



Hi _____,

I just wanted to get in touch regarding treats being given out to Kate's class.  As you know it was gum day early last week and I was not notified ahead of time in order to provide a safe alternative for Kate.  On Friday, there was a teacher in Kate's class (not sure who it was -a substitute perhaps -Kate forgets her name) who handed out chocolate pumpkins to all of the students in the class.  Kate told her that she is allergic to that and the teacher replied "Oh, I won't give you any then."  As you can imagine, I found it disconcerting that there was someone in the room who obviously was unaware of the severe life threatening allergies in the class and handing out chocolate which most certainly contains dairy and possible traces of nuts.  Kate was very responsible in this situation and we discussed with her how proud we were of her good decision making and her ability to advocate for herself in this case.  We had an incident however in the summer where Kate was in a similar situation and made a poor decision, choosing to eat the candy.  Thankfully the candy was miraculously safe for her (it was a gummy) and she was o.k.   The point here being that she is still a 6 year old child who could have possibly made a bad choice were very serious consequences.  Fortunately that wasn't the case.  The teacher told the children that they could eat it outside.  According to Kate, the children told Mlle. Wald about the chocolates when she returned to the class. 

I would like to confirm that the school will notify me ahead of time for any treats that will be given out at school as per my requested accommodations.  By providing that information in a reasonable amount of time beforehand I could then a) suggest a safe alternative that would be inclusive for all children in the school and if that is not feasible then b) suggest an alternative that could be provided for those children excluded from the treat because of dietary restrictions due to medical or cultural/religious reasons.  If this also proved to be impossible, then I would like at the very least to have the information so that I can choose to provide a safe alternative for Kate. 

I received the newsletter and was aware of the upcoming freezie day for QSP. I really appreciate the Parent Council foregoing the usual ice-cream in favour of this alternative that would be safe for children with dairy allergies.  I would like to have confirmation of the date that this will be happening please and to inquire about how the freezies will be opened.  It would be dangerous for Kate if a knife or scissors were used that may have been used previously on other food items or food packaging containing her allergens (such as scissors used to open a yogurt tube, or a knife that may have been used to cut cheese or spread butter).  I would be happy to come in and assist on the day that this will occur (hoping it is not a day that I'm scheduled to work).

Finally I wanted to discuss the possibility of scheduling a workshop for your staff. My partner Tam and I would love to come in and present our allergy safety presentation.  I am happy to share the content with you ahead of time to get your approval and to see if you think it would be beneficial for your staff.   I met with superintendents and head of special programs last week and they had asked if I had presented to Whiteoaks yet and that has prompted me to try and schedule that with you!  The presentation is 2 hours long.

Thank you for your continued support and understanding.  With the recent death of a student in Aylmer Ontario, it is another reminder of the need to be diligent in taking reasonable risk reduction measures to prevent anaphylactic reactions.


Date: October 1, 2012.

To: Principal of my child's school



Good morning,

Wow, October already! I hope you had the opportunity to enjoy some of the beautiful fall colours over the weekend.

I have to teach this week on Wednesday and will be unable to come in for the lunch supervision and cleaning. Is there a person in the school (possibly t.a. Or volunteer) who could  step in for me on such occasions? Patrick and I were wondering if we could hire someone to help us with this and what the costs would be? I still plan to come in most days but do have to work and will have other days when I cannot come in (due to travel or staying home if Andrew is sick for example).

As I have been reflecting on Kate's previous school lunchroom procedures and what made it safe for her there, it was definitely the supervision and cleaning policies in place. We paid for an extra adult in the room (this cost was divided between allergy parents). All allergic kids sat separate from others and their tables were cleaned with paper towel to avoid spreading allergens onto their desks from contaminated cloths. Children were supervised to ensure they all sat down while eating and behaved properly so that food was not unnecessarily spilled or thrown. Children were reminded to wash hands immediately after eating and classroom was cleaned thoroughly- tables AND chairs wipes and floor swept. All staff at the school had taken my training workshop  as well so were very knowledgeable on reasonable risk reduction strategies, how to identify reactions and respond accordingly. Students were educated in the importance of appropriate behaviour at lunch and having multiple allergy kids together provided peer moral support.

What are your thoughts on the feasibility of such measures in Kate's class?

I will be in at noon today if you would like to discuss.

Happy Monday! Thanks,
Melissa Scheichl (f. Pearson)

Date: September 26, 2012.

To: Concerned Parents of Peel



 Hi there,
I received a forward email from your group -Concerned Parents in Peel, and was wondering if you could help me out.  I have a daughter at Whiteoaks Public School with severe, life-threatening allergies and we are working to keep her safe at school.  A letter went home asking parents to refrain from sending dairy, eggs, tree nuts and peanuts and this was very upsetting to many of the parents.  We are trying to find solutions that can keep everyone happy and our daughter safe at the same time.  I would be very appreciative if you could share the following with your parents and to have them contact me to offer any suggestions or ideas.  I feel very saddened at the negative response of the community and truly do not want my daughter's health issues to affect other people negatively.  I appeal to parents' empathies to imagine what they would do if tomorrow their child was in hospital dying due to exposure to milk and how they would handle it.  I am open to all suggestions and comments.  I am currently working with the school boards, MPPs and ministries of health and education to review policies and am looking for input of what's working in other schools and what's not.  Thanks so much.  Here is the email:

Dear friends,

I am writing this to you as I have been dedicating the past few weeks to trying to make classrooms safer for children with food allergies.  I know that it is difficult for anyone to comprehend the severity of these allergies if you have not experienced this first hand.  Please take the time to read this article and to understand what we are trying to prevent.  Your support would mean the world to me :)  Thanks!  Please be advised that this article is frightening but I feel it is important for parents in the schools to understand the potential risk to a child with anaphylaxis at school. If you agree, please share this email.   If you have any stories to share whether you are a parent of an allergic child or non-allergic child about anything to do with allergies please take the time to email them to me as I'm compiling a collection to study as I prepare to meet with board officials, mps, mpps, and hopefully representatives from the ministry of health and education.  We need to find a way to accommodate these children without angering everyone in the community by working together with open hearts, open minds and empathy for both sides.  The goal here is to prevent incidents such as this one:  Deadly celebrations:  How food in the classroom endangers your child and what you can do about it . 

I really appreciate you taking the time to read this article and to contribute your thoughts, stories and experiences as to how we can make the schools safer for these children.  I am looking for stories that share the following details in particular:
reactions that have happened in schools
accommodations that have been put in place to protect children and whether these were successes or failures
incidences of bullying of allergic kids
My goal is to find out what schools are doing, what works and what doesn't.

Thank you so much for your support.

Melissa Scheichl (f. Pearson)

Date: September 24, 2012.

To: Minister of Education Honourable Laurel Broten & Minister of Health: Honourable Leona Aglukkaq



Dear Honourable Laurel Broten and Honourable Leona Aglukkaq;

I am writing to you today to request your attendance at a meeting I am organizing for school board officials and MPPs regarding anaphylaxis safety in our schools.  I have been reviewing the Peel District School Board's anaphylaxis policy as well as the document from Anaphylaxis Canada entitled "Anaphylaxis in Schools and Other Settings".  I would like to schedule a meeting to discuss these documents and the accommodations being made in individual schools for students with life-threatening anaphylaxis.   In particular, I would like to address the Board's policies on lunchroom supervision, cleaning of tables for reasonable risk reduction, training of staff, students and education for empathy of non-allergic students' parents.  I would also like to look at policies on foods for celebrations, treats, etc. 

I have worked as a teacher in Peel, and completed my Masters in Education degree in 2004.  I have been providing Anaphylaxis Safety training for Educational environments in particular through the Region of Peel's Raising the Bar program for daycares and preschools in Peel Region in conjunction with the CDRC (Child Development Resource Connection) in Peel.  The feedback from these trainings has been phenomenal with teachers expressing greater confidence for working with children with Anaphylactic allergies in their facilities.  I am keen to work with Special Programs in the Peel District School Board to recognize these students as having special needs.  I have contacted Special Programs in the past offering to help out with their information sessions for parents of students with special needs entering Kindergarten in peel schools.  These programs are stated to be for children with documented developmental disabilities, ASD/PDD, physical disability, low vision, hearing impairment or others who may require specialized support or program modification in the school setting.  I have been told that Anaphylactic students do not fit into this designation but I would strongly disagree.  These children have a life-threatening condition surrounding food which is challenging to avoid in the school setting.  They are at risk for life-threatening reactions from food, contaminated surfaces or unsafe craft materials.  I would strongly encourage the board to recognize these children as deserving of accommodations to provide for a safe environment at school. 

In the newsletter that went home from my children's school at the start of this school year it states, "...they must be guarded from accidental exposure to allergens. A tiny amount is potentially fatal within minutes. A trace on a desk, or even a whiff of protein may be enough to cause a violent anaphylactic reaction in which vital body systems virtually shut down. You can help ensure the safety of these students by ensuring that your child does not bring the allergy causing food to school.  This is necessary because if one child were to eat a food containing an allergen, then accidentally leave traces on objects in the school, there would be potential danger to the anaphylactic child."  In this statement, the risks to these students are identified, however there are no standardized approaches to accommodating for the special needs of these children in the schools.  Many non-allergic students are aware that nuts and peanuts are not allowed at school yet they are told it is o.k. to eat dairy next to a child with a life-threatening milk allergy.  In the case of Sabrina's Law, we all recognize the risk of even a tiny amount of dairy being ingested by a child with an anaphylactic milk allergy.  Anaphylaxis Canada clearly recommends cleaning of surfaces following snacks and lunches yet I am told that it is no one's responsibility to do that and as a parent of an allergic child, I am required to come in myself and clean the tables if I'm concerned.  Anaphylaxis Canada also recommends supervision of young children while eating yet we have no accommodation in place for these children to have this supervision -there is one adult supervising four classrooms providing only intermittent supervision.  The risks to a child with anaphylaxis of accidental contact or bullying (which is a very real concern for these children) during these times is a real concern.  

I have spoken to the MPP in Kitchner (Michael Harris) and am saddened to see the situation that has arisen there with parents suing the Catholic school board because of accommodations they were trying to provide to a child with anaphylaxis.  The community has been divided and the situation has escalated out of control.  I worry that leaving individual schools to decipher vague policies and enter uncharted waters will lead to more of these types of situations.  I am eager to discuss how we can improve and standardize the policies for making our schools safer for these children.

I would really appreciate your time and consideration of this matter.


Melissa Scheichl (f.Pearson)

Date: September 19, 2012.

To: Director of Peel Board of Education Tony Pontes, Trustees, Superintendents, Principals, MPPs, MPs.




I have been reviewing the Peel board's anaphylaxis policy as well as the document from Anaphylaxis Canada entitled "Anaphylaxis in Schools and Other Settings".  I would like to schedule a meeting with any or all of you to discuss these documents and the accommodations being made in individual schools for students with life-threatening anaphylaxis.   In particular, I would like to address the Board's policies on lunchroom supervision, cleaning of tables for reasonable risk reduction, training of staff, students and education for empathy of non-allergic students' parents.  I would also like to look at policies on foods for celebrations, treats, etc. 

I have worked as a teacher in Peel, and completed my Masters in Education degree in 2004.  I have been providing Anaphylaxis Safety training for Educational environments in particular through the Region of Peel's Raising the Bar program for daycares and preschools in Peel Region in conjunction with the CDRC (Child Development Resource Connection) in Peel.  The feedback from these trainings has been phenomenal with teachers expressing greater confidence for working with children with Anaphylactic allergies in their facilities.  I am keen to work with Special Programs in the Peel District School Board to recognize these students as having special needs.  I have contacted Special Programs in the past offering to help out with their information sessions for parents of students with special needs entering Kindergarten in peel schools.  These programs are stated to be for children with documented developmental disabilities, ASD/PDD, physical disability, low vision, hearing impairment or others who may require specialized support or program modification in the school setting.  I have been told that Anaphylactic students do not fit into this designation but I would strongly disagree.  These children have a life-threatening condition surrounding food which is challenging to avoid in the school setting.  They are at risk for life-threatening reactions from food, contaminated surfaces or unsafe craft materials.  I would strongly encourage the board to recognize these children as deserving of accommodations to provide for a safe environment at school. 

In the newsletter that went home from my children's school at the start of this school year it states, "...they must be guarded from accidental exposure to allergens. A tiny amount is potentially fatal within minutes. A trace on a desk, or even a whiff of protein may be enough to cause a violent anaphylactic reaction in which vital body systems virtually shut down. You can help ensure the safety of these students by ensuring that your child does not bring the allergy causing food to school.  This is necessary because if one child were to eat a food containing an allergen, then accidentally leave traces on objects in the school, there would be potential danger to the anaphylactic child."  In this statement, the risks to these students are identified, however there are no standardized approaches to accommodating for the special needs of these children in the schools.  Many non-allergic students are aware that nuts and peanuts are not allowed at school yet they are told it is o.k. to eat dairy next to a child with a life-threatening milk allergy.  In the case of Sabrina's Law, we all recognize the risk of even a tiny amount of dairy being ingested by a child with an anaphylactic milk allergy.  Anaphylaxis Canada clearly recommends cleaning of surfaces following snacks and lunches yet I am told that it is no one's responsibility to do that and as a parent of an allergic child, I am required to come in myself and clean the tables if I'm concerned.  Anaphylaxis Canada also recommends supervision of young children while eating yet we have no accommodation in place for these children to have this supervision -there is one adult supervising four classrooms providing only intermittent supervision.  The risks to a child with anaphylaxis of accidental contact or bullying (which is a very real concern for these children) during these times is a real concern.  These are a few of the concerns that I have and would be more than happy to meet with any or all of you to discuss how we can improve and standardize the policies for making our schools safer for these children.

I would really appreciate your time and consideration of this matter.

Thank you,

Melissa Scheichl (f.Pearson)

Date: September 09, 2012.

To:  Principal at my daughter's school



Hi _______,

Hope you are having a relaxing weekend after what I'm sure was a crazy first week!  As you know, I started my course this weekend and the workload is daunting.  I am also meeting with clients throughout the week and have scheduled classes that I am teaching in between drop off, lunch hour and pick up.  I am unable to come in the additional two times per day for the cleaning of the desks to accommodate the concerns of cross-contamination. I know that you are working for a solution to this problem and I appreciate that.  In the meantime, what can we do?  I will continue to come in on the lunch hours this week and in the future but there may be days that I have to go downtown or meet with clients and won't be able to.  I also worry about days that Andrew could be sick from school or other unavoidable circumstances that could prevent me from coming in...I would feel more comfortable if we could have someone in the school who supervises the lunch room on those occasions (perhaps a TA could come into the room at that time?)....I know Wendy had concerns about the lack of an adult presence during the duration of the lunch time with Kate so perhaps she can help us think of something for this.

As promised for the letter home to parents here are some items you could include:

**See attached files -great documents from the government explaining and outlining how to accommodate milk allergy, egg allergy and nut allergies

Or these tidbits I have taken from these docs:

Severe allergic reactions (anaphylactic reaction)
occur when the body’s immune system strongly reacts to
a particular allergen protein or irritant.These reactions
may be caused by food, insect stings and medications.
In Canada, the nine priority food allergens are peanuts,
tree nuts, sesame seeds, milk, eggs, fish (including
crustaceans and shellfish), soy, wheat and sulphites.

What are the symptoms of an allergic reaction?
When someone comes in contact with an allergen, the
symptoms of a reaction may develop quickly and rapidly
progress from mild to severe.The most dangerous symptoms
include breathing difficulties, a drop in blood pressure or
shock, which may result in loss of consciousness and even
death. Severe allergic reactions can occur quickly and
without warning. A person experiencing an allergic reaction
may have any of the following symptoms:
• Flushed face, hives or a rash, red and itchy skin
• Swelling of the eyes, face, lips, throat and tongue
• Trouble breathing, speaking or swallowing
• Anxiousness, distress, fainting, paleness, sense of doom,
• Cramps, diarrhea, vomiting
• A drop in blood pressure, rapid heart beat, loss of

How are food allergies and severe food allergy
reactions treated?
Currently there is no cure for food allergies.The only
option is complete avoidance of the specific allergen.

In your child's class there is a student with life-threatening, anaphylactic allergies to milk, eggs, peanuts and tree nuts.  This child's previous reactions included loss of consciousness from a dramatic drop in blood pressure and a compromised airway to due to swelling of the throat.  This reaction was life-threatening and unfortunately a future incident could likely elicit an even stronger reaction in the body. Even traces of these ingredients coming in contact with the skin or through inhalation pose a threat. We know that it is may seem difficult to make changes to the menus you plan for your child's lunches and snacks to accommodate these allergies in the classroom and appreciate your efforts to make the learning environment safe for this student.  It truly can mean the difference between life and death for a child.  Here are some suggestions for safe alternatives that you can send with your child for lunches and snacks.

A person who is allergic to Dairy is allergic to all foods that contain milk ingredients.  This includes yogurt, cheese, and butter.  It may seem difficult to imagine alternatives for dairy but there are many delicious and equally nutritious substitutes. 

What is the difference between a milk allergy and
lactose intolerance?
When someone has a milk allergy his/her immune system
has an abnormal reaction to milk proteins, which may be
life-threatening. When a person is lactose intolerant, his/her
body does not have enough of the enzyme lactase, needed
by the digestive system, to break down the milk sugar
lactose. Symptoms include abdominal pain, bloating and
diarrhea after milk ingestion.

How can I determine if a product contains milk
or milk derivatives?
Always read the ingredient list carefully. Milk and milk
derivatives can often be present under different names: i.e., casein or whey.  Fortunately the Canadian Government is now implementing new food labelling laws to have allergens clearly identified on ingredient labels. 

Do not forget that cross-contamination,
e.g., using the same knife that was just used to spread
butter, can also be a potential source of the allergen.

Sample Snack & Lunch Ideas:
All products named can be found at Loblaws in the Health food section.

Use these in place of milk or butter in recipes in equal amounts
coconut oil is an excellent substitute for butter and is delicious.  Earth Balance brand margarine is also a great substitute for butter.
Vegannaise is an alternative to mayonnaise that is made from soy and is delicious.  Try it in Tuna salad sandwiches or anywhere you would ordinarily use mayonnaise.
rice milk comes in regular, vanilla and chocolate and is a delicious and nutritious alternative to milk.  It is fortified with calcium, niacin, vitamin B12, vitamin A, vitamin D and iron.  It even comes in "juice box" sizes.
Enjoy Life Brand has products that are free of the top 10 allergens and are great for school lunches.  They havechocolate chips, cookies, granola bars and trail mixes.
Safe Snacks:

popcorn cooked with coconut oil (tastes just like the movies) -add some sea salt -yum!
home-made trail mix (cheerios -not nut ones!, enjoy life chocolate chips, raisins, shreddies, -can omit chocolate & bake with oil and seasonings -garlic or other for savoury)
apple sauce
soy puddings (chocolate panda one in health section of loblaws is yummy)
fruit snacks (Welch's, Fruit to Go, raisins etc.)
ritz crackers with wow butter (Wow butter is safe-for school peanut butter alternative made from soy -it is delicious and a great source of protein)
melba toast crackers with hummus
chips and salsa
plain potato chips
pretzels (Loblaws Blue Menu alphabet ones are fun for kids)
Safe lunch ideas:

pasta with red sauce and ground beef
pasta salad with olives, peppers, cucumbers and lemon & olive oil dressing
wow butter sandwich (Wow butter safe peanut butter alternative)
tuna sandwich made with vegannaise (try adding raisins -yum!)
cold cut sandwich with mustard and vegannaise
all beef wieners
grilled chicken strips with veggies & poppy seed dip (renee's brand)
wrap with grilled chicken, tuna salad with vegannaise, cold cuts and vegannaise, wow butter & honey or wow butter & jam or wow butter & banana)
pizza!  -pita with pizza sauce -pepperoni, olives, diced green peppers, pineapple, any other veggies and daiya dairy free (rice) cheese substitute
chicken souvlaki style with pita and hummus -cucumbers, red peppers too!
sheppard's pie using rice milk in place of milk and earth balance in place of butter
chicken nuggets (use panko crumbs and rice milk for breading)
soup: tomato (Imagine brand is cream of tomato without milk -delicious), chicken noodle, habitant pea soup

I would be very happy to offer a workshop for parents in coordination with a nutritionist if they have concerns about what to send their child to school for lunches.  If you think this would be of interest.  Alternatively I could have a table at the open house for questions which I have done at pheasant run last year.  I am happy to provide more recipes also.   Let me know if this is enough or you would like any more information.  Thanks.

Date: September 03, 2012.

To:  Trustees, School admin, School board officials, mps, mpps

To Whom it may Concern,

My name is Melissa Scheichl (f.Pearson).  I have worked for the Peel District School board for many years and sadly handed in my resignation last week.  The reason for my resignation is that my daughter begins grade one tomorrow in a Peel school and I am concerned for her safety. 
As I sit here thinking about the kids off to school in the morning, I feel fear and sadness -Kate will be starting grade one and instead of worrying about her meeting new friends and liking her teacher, I worry if she will be safe. No parent should have to fear for their child's safety at school. I will be there in the morning having volunteered to supervise her classmates washing their hands in case they had peanut, nuts, dairy or eggs for breakfast which likely most children will have had. I have also volunteered to supervise on the lunch hour. Sadly, the school has informed me that it is nobody's responsibility in the school to wipe the tables after snacks before the two recesses and if I wish the classroom to be cleaned after eating, I will have to do it myself. So now I will be spending a good portion of the day, traveling back and forth between home and school. I worry about the craft materials used. I worry about Kate putting something (the tip of a pencil etc.) in her mouth that has been contaminated by butter or yogurt hands. I worry about her having a reaction and going to the bathroom and fainting. I worry about all the what-ifs and other fears that are associated with life-threatening food allergies. I plan to appeal to the Ministry to view these children as disabled and to lobby to get support for a teacher's assistant to supervise Kate. The reality is she can die. Because of food. Which is everywhere. Shouldn't that be considered a disability? Reading the current issue of Allergic Living magazine, I relate to the mom's story entitled "The New Kid" - She describes the challenges she has faced advocating for her son (in the States) to be viewed as disabled for his allergies. At a new school this year she states: "I feel back to square one in trying to ensure my son is protected and included. Starting over is tough; I feel like I did when John was first going to school. I've baked, cooked, been room mom, gone on field trips, attended parties,donated food and snacks, had countless meetings with teachers, and school administrators. It's exhausting to think I need to roll up my sleeves once more. But my life's purpose is to protect my children... and I'll do whatever I can to ensure my food allergic child's health and safety. EVERY SINGLE CHILD DESERVES TO HAVE A SCHOOL EXPERIENCE THAT IS HAPPY, SAFE, INCLUSIVE AND WORRY-FREE". Kate told me today she is scared to start Grade One because of her allergies. No child should feel unsafe or excluded at school.

My name is Melissa Scheichl - I run a website called The Allergy Mom ( and have resigned my position with the peel district school board (as of last week) to devote my time to volunteering in my daughter's school to keep her safe as well as providing anaphylaxis and allergy safety workshops for teachers and daycare providers in Peel Region as part of the "Raising the Bar" Program for Peel region daycares and preschools. I plan to appeal to the Ministry of Education to view severe life threatening allergies as a disability and provide assistance and support as well as individual education plans for these children to keep them safe at school. If you can support me in anyway, please let me know.

Thank you,

Melissa Scheichl (f.Pearson)