2017 Teen Advisory Group Projects
Each year, members of FARE’s Teen Advisory Group (TAG) serve as leaders in their communities by mentoring other teens, writing for our blog, and helping guide our youth programs. They also take on special projects to help raise awareness and educate others. This year, TAG members focused on digital outreach to expand their message beyond their local community. Here is a wrap-up, in their own words, of what they accomplished this year.
According to FARE’s website, teenagers and young adults have the highest risks of fatal allergic reactions, partly because teens’ risk-taking tendencies mean they don’t always carry epinephrine auto-injectors.
Carrying an auto-injector as a teen can be difficult. When going out with friends, playing on a sports team, or taking a school trip, it is easy to forget your auto-injectors. Carrying your auto-injectors in a stylish way when going to a party can be difficult and make you feel different from other teens. However, carrying your auto-injector is extremely important; in case of a reaction, it could mean the difference between life and death.
FARE TAG Midwest is addressing this problem with our Instagram account, featuring images of us carrying our epinephrine auto-injectors wherever we go. We want to show that carrying your auto-injector doesn’t have to be difficult. There are many easy and cool ways to bring it with you, wherever you go. Over the last six months, we have posted over 30 photos and received positive responses through comments on our posts.
Our bio reads, “Life with food allergies is an adventure, so live it with your auto-injector! Just like the weather, reactions can change fast, so carrying is crucial.” The account is run by a group of teens, so we understand all the challenges that other teens face. We’re trying to show the lighter side of life with food allergies - you can go so many fun places with your auto-injector by your side!
Follow us on Instagram @epiadventures.
This year, The Teen Allergy Group Southwest created @foodallergy_livestreams on Facebook and Instagram. The goal of this project was to educate others on what food allergies are in a new and interesting way, using a livestream. We decided to create new and empowering topics to make sure that the information you hear would be different than anywhere else. We focused on topics such as how to create food allergy legislation, eleven food allergy apps, and food challenges. If you want to see our past livestreams, make sure to check our Facebook and Instagram.
Over the last three years, I have worked to raise awareness about Epinephrine Readiness - recognizing signs and symptoms of anaphylaxis, knowing what to do (in the case of anaphylaxis), and being prepared to do it (being comfortable with the idea of self-administering epinephrine and always carrying two epinephrine auto-injectors).
My Epinephrine Readiness for Teens project addresses the most prevalent issues for teens with food allergies. As the result of vigilant care from parents and caregivers, many teens have gone a number of years without ever having an anaphylactic reaction. These teens often do not understand the seriousness of their food allergies. That lack of understanding, combined with typical teenage behaviors such as pushing boundaries, feeling invincible, and risk-taking leaves teens with food allergies highly vulnerable. Teens who do not understand (or believe) the seriousness of their food allergies often do not carry epinephrine. That behavior, coupled with increased risk-taking and new opportunities and environments further increases their risk. Furthermore, teens who have gone years without having had an anaphylactic reaction often do not understand or recognize the signs and symptoms of anaphylaxis, and therefore do not know what to do during an anaphylactic emergency. My Epinephrine Readiness for Teens project revolves around educating teens (in addition to preteens, children and adults since anyone with a food allergy should always carry epinephrine) about epinephrine readiness.
I believe teen-to-teen communication about the importance of ALWAYS carrying two epinephrine auto-injectors is the best way for me to make an impact.
Congratulations to the 2017 TAG members for an awesome year. FARE thanks you for all your hard work raising awareness in your communities. If you are interested in joining this year’s Teen Advisory Group, applications are due February 5.
What to Read Next
Teen Advisory Group member Nicholas Cannistraci shares his favorite parts of the FARE Teen Summit.
Food allergy mom and innovator Susie Hultquist shares how food allergies have impacted her family, her advice for other food allergy families, and how she has responded to make an impact for the food allergy community.