The Severe Allergy Starter Kit

Although fatalities from severe allergic reactions are rare, they occur most often striking teenagers and adults. The Severe Allergy Starter Kit fills the gap in knowledge amongst youth, teens, and adults about the various symptoms related to allergies.

Inspired by my own personal experiences, The Severe Allergy Starter Kit is an educational toolkit that fosters interaction and learning among both adults and children about severe allergies.

 

Growing up in a family where allergies were pretty non-existent, I was oblivious to the importance of allergy symptom recognition. When I was 20, I remember coming back from a run feeling abnormally itchy, breathless, dizzy, and lightheaded. Within 10 minutes I was feeling nauseous, my skin was bumpy, red and itchy, I still could not catch my breath and felt like I needed to vomit, my skin was so swollen I remember I couldn’t even form a fist. Home alone, there was an overwhelming sense of fear that if I didn’t call for help things would not look to good for me. I called for an ambulance, and within a few minutes, paramedics were rushing to my side. I was told I was experiencing anaphylactic shock and administered epinephrine and taken to the hospital. Having eaten shellfish my entire life, it wasn’t until the age of 20 I was diagnosed with the very rare form of an exercise induced severe allergy to, you guessed it… shellfish. It was after this frightening incident I realized the importance of recognizing the symptoms of severe allergies and knowing how and when to respond.
Although fatalities from severe allergies are rare, they occur most often striking teenagers and young adults. This is generally due to the lack of understanding among adolescents because of the lack of allergy awareness that should’ve been stressed during childhood. It’s important to know these tragedies are preventable with the right education and diligence about avoidance, symptom recognition, and knowing when and how to respond to a severe allergic reaction. Currently, the Ontario elementary health curriculum lacks an in-depth education on allergy awareness leading to children growing up with little knowledge about severe allergies.
The Severe Allergy Starter Kit is an education tool that is meant to be kept in places of learning — homes, schools, and community centres. The kit works to foster interaction and learning among both adults and children about severe allergies. In doing so, will help create a level of awareness among adults which can be passed on, but also among children which can be carried throughout their adolescence and adulthood. The kit includes a fold out quick reference poster about the difference between mild and severe allergies, what to look out for and how to act, instructions, a training EpiPen, and information cards about allergies.
Target Audience: Children in grades 4-7 and the adults who foster their growth. The Ontario elementary health and physical education curriculum only touches on the topic of allergy awareness in years early as grade 1. Aligning with current material being taught, providing a more in-depth education in grades 4-7 on severe allergies will enable both children and adults to be more proactive in applying the knowledge. This age group would be the most appropriate to target, as early as grade 4, children begin to learn about food choices and healthy eating goals and apply this knowledge by learning about food choices in various settings. In grade 7 is where they end off learning about food choices and health problems and apply this by learning about healthy eating practices and routines.

Instructions

This simple fold out instruction booklet offers information about the contents on one side. The reverse reiterates similar the instructions on the training EpiPen but for actual use of a real EpiPen.

Fold Out Poster

This fold out quick reference poster works best posted in easy to see places, classroom doors, boards, fridge doors etc. It reminds children and adults about the different symptoms related to severe allergies, the triggers, and how to respond to a severe allergic reaction.

Training EpiPen

This device allows both adults and children to easily and safely learn how to administer epinephrine. By rebranding the label, it simplifies the learning process taking out convoluted and confusing extra information on the device.

Allergy Info Cards

Green Deck: Allergy Information Cards
This deck of cards helps adults and teenagers learn the broad but most important information about severe allergies. It encourages interaction and memorization as the cards can be used like flash cards. It is a fun, easy, interactive and alternative way to learning in comparison to skimming through multiple books and internet articles.

Orange Deck: Trigger Cards
This deck designed specifically for children features words and images educating them on the various common triggers that can cause a severe allergic reaction. The variety of photographic images give children a visual reference for the word which they may or may not be familiar with. The cards can also be used in reverse like flashcards to help children memorize the names of the triggers.

Red Deck: Symptom Cards
This deck designed specifically for children teaches them the importance of symptom recognition. It tells them what to look out for by creating a visual reference for the various bodily symptoms of severe allergies.