Managing medical concerns at school and on excursions is one of my biggest worries as a teacher! Keeping anaphylactic children safe at school & on excursions is at the top of that list. Since a reaction can be almost instant from the allergen and has a cascading effect. This means the longer you leave it, the more difficult it is to recover. However, despite this serious concern, it just means effective strategies need to be in place to ensure preventative measures are the number 1 priority.
In outdoor education, we usually run our programs a considerable distance from emergency medical care. As a result, this adds an additional layer of risk to any trip away. However, rather than worry about this and feel as though it’s too risky to take kids away; my focus has always been on effective preparation and management. This ensures that the chances for an anaphylactic reaction becomes so low, it’s not an is-sue.
If a student’s medical profile is flagged with an anaphylactic allergy, I’ll phone home and talk to mum and dad. What I need to know when I call is what are the specific triggers? Can they have foods which might contain traces of the allergen? When was the last re-action and what happened? Even though this information might be in the medicals; I prefer the first hand information from parents, so I can effectively brief my staff. I also want to know how well their son or daughter manages their allergy. Are they aware of what can happen? Are they aware of what foods they can and can’t have? This information is vital in helping provide teachers with the best management strategies in the field.
As an example, on one program, I had 247 students out in the field for a week long camp. 11 of the students had allergies which could result in an anaphylactic reaction. Based upon the information from the parents, and the fact some activities were hours away from emergency care; I carefully placed students with the highest needs in the closest proximity to emergency healthcare facilities. In one of the extreme cases, given the number of allergens that the student was affected by; I asked his mum to provide and pack the week’s food in an esky for her son and I provided a clean stove which was specifically for his personal use.
At the end of the day, it about clear channels of communication between parents, teachers and the child. All staff are trained in first aid and anaphylaxis treatment, effective preparation and prevention is far more important. For every activity we do, we go armed with a list of dietary requirements and only shop according to each individual excursion. We don’t plan meals months in advance to save time. It’s about providing the best meal options for each individual group. This way, we’re prepared and able to ensure we provide a safe environment for every child and a wonderful memorable experience away from school.
Article submitted by David Gregory of Xcursion
Here are our Top 4 Family Friendly Weekend Activities
Having quality family time together can be difficult when you take into account work, school, after school activities and sport. Although you may be ferrying the kids around here, there and everywhere it isn’t what most would class as ‘family time’. Taking advantage of free weekends to spend some time together as a family can be very rewarding; if you can only manage one weekend a month where the whole family gets together, you may find that everyone starts looking forward to that special time together (even the teenagers).
So what do you do? Find something that the whole family can enjoy together and that everyone can be involved in. We know that families are on a budget so most of things we are including are either free or minimal cost. However there are few things that do cost a bit more so maybe make them a once a year special trip.
At Home Activities
If it is a nice day then find a bunch of games that keep everyone on an even playing field (i.e.: Little ones can play just as well as bigger kids). Bocce, Crocket, capture the flag, totem tennis, soccer ball on a rope. Play one on one or in teams, get outside in the fresh air and have some fun. Why not start a bit of a veggie patch; you don’t need a lot of space or even a garden bed as a lot of veggies will grow happily in pots. Pick some veggies that are easy to grow and care for (celery and spring onions are especially easy as they will re-grow from trimmings). Herbs are also great and fairly easy to maintain, they just need a trim every now and then.
If your planned family day is a bit gloomy and rainy; grab out the board games and puzzles and enjoy the competition. I strongly advise avoiding Monopoly unless everyone can handle losing. Sit down and read some books together. Jump in the kitchen and do some cooking together (even using some of your home grown veggies and herbs). Kids love to help in the kitchen and there are parts of the preparation that are safe for even little ones to help with. (Have a read of our Kids in the Kitchen article).
Go on a scavenger hunt, this can be an inside and outside game although I recommend you limit the territory (either inside or outside), set a time limit and give the kids a bag to keep their ‘treasure’. Put together a list of about 20 items for them to find. Be a bit creative and let them use their imagination by giving clues like “find something beginning with K”, “find something that smells really bad”, “find something that is yellow” etc. Set them off and when time us up everyone comes back and the winner who has found the most items gets a little prize (they get to choose dinner, a trip to an ice cream shop), something that they will enjoy but that you can also include other children in as well.
Visit the Local Park/Explore Your Local Area
Visit your local tourist information centre and see what they recommend for tourists to do in your local area; you might be surprised at what there is to do that you never knew about or even something that you have been to previously and forgotten about.
Why not find a great playground that has a mixture of play equipment for the kids and open space to run around, kick a ball etc. There are more and more parks with exercise equipment popping up around the country. These are a great way to get the whole family some exercise while having fun. Most of the equipment can be used by kids about 5 years up with a little help from Mum and Dad. No matter what type of equipment your local park has you can even create your own obstacle course and make a bit of a competition of it.
Have a look at your local council website for a list of parks in your area and see if you can find one close by that will suit your family.
There are a surprising number of miniature train ride facilities; they are a great, cheap day out for the family because seriously who doesn’t like Miniature Trains? Most miniature train locations will run a ride day once a month and they generally have picnic/BBQ facilities on site so why not take along a picnic lunch and extend the day out a bit? Try doing a google search for miniature trains in your local area and see what is around; I can assure you that even if it is a bit of a drive it will be worth it; the kids will have a ball and most parents do too (although we could never admit that we had more fun than the kids).
A little bit of research in this area can go a long way. Discovery Centres and Museums are becoming more popular and most nowadays have a dedicated kids’ area where they can play and learn. There are
loads of discovery centres, museums and botanical gardens throughout Australia so no matter where you live; you should be able to find something close by; if not some of these places would be well worth a weekend away to see.
Have a look at this website for some ideas: https://www.scienceweek.net.au/discovery-centres/
Whatever you decide to do; do it as a family and do it as regularly as you can and enjoy your family.
My 3 year old niece and I spent time in the garden recently, picking veggies for a banquet I was hosting and what amazed me was that as we picked the vegetables, and I asked her, did you try it, she would say YES and then happily put whatever it was in her mouth, chew and say YUM! Even curly parsley..which, even for adults, is a flavour to be acquired!
What I realised in watching her is that there were three things at play – 1. Modelling 2. Interaction. And 3. She knew what her body wants
This little woman that I adore has always known what her body needed….when she was sick and I handed her kombucha, she drank it down, even though it’s a grown up flavour, she knew instinctively it would make her better…like the parsley. I didn’t tell her that it was good for her, she just knew and so she went back for more!
I believe she was happy to munch out on greens because we weren’t sitting at a table forcing her to eat them. We were out in nature, playing, have a great time, enjoying the experience of being together. She was a participant in the process and was subtly distracted by that…enough that she was willing to try everything and not notice if she didn’t really like it.
And I was showing her, through my gestures and my conversation, that things were yum and safe to try and experience…as I picked I would show her how I ate it and express my glee at the flavour.
Kids are soaking it all up…they have short attention spans and are spirited, open beings, we must feed that in them…literally and metaphorically. If you want your kids to eat greens make it fun, interactive, model it and trust and listen to your child as they are guided by their own needs (for the good stuff!).
If I’d followed these things I think I would have a 19 year old step son who wouldn’t avoid green stuff on this plate still…we had many, many arguments about eating his greens or no ice-cream!
As they say – you catch more ants with honey…and modelling, interaction and faith are the sweetest of all when it comes to the green stuff!
Book review – Supercharged Food For Kids
Our precious Kids, those who need the very best nutrition… best selling author Lee Holmes has done it again by delivering parents a practical easy to follow guide and inclusive recipe book to help set parents up for success. Life is busy, so it is so refreshing when someone is helping us to make the job of feeding our families easier.
Supercharged for Kids is another step fulfilling Lee’s mission to change the way we nourish ourselves. In this book her tips and recipes are a guide to help us change the way our kids eat so we can build stronger, healthier and brighter kids. It helps parents deliver the right nutrients needed to help kids sustain their energy levels, keep their mood up, concentrate and perform at their very best each day.
This book is easy to read and even though I don’t have little children anymore, I know be-ing a wholefood advocate myself, that this book is full of resources to help establish posi-tive eating habits for your kids that they can maintain for the rest of their lives.
Just to mention a couple of my recipes we tried as a family so far and everyone LOVED….Gluten free Pocket Bread, Cauliflower Mac & Cheese, Zucchini Fritters & Lamb sausage and basic egg muffins.
I know you will just love this book; it is a must to add to your recipe collections.
Book Review by: Kylie Hollonds
Order your E-Book copy from our Bookshop today
So you have found out that you have a food allergy or food intolerance. Where do you start?
Food allergy is a result of your body’s reaction to certain foods where it responds to certain items and food products as an irritant. It can happen with anyone, anytime throughout his or her life. Food Intolerance is a little different and is not life threatening. It is more of a chemical response but can cause similar symptoms; upset stomach, vomiting, rashes, pain etc. Food allergies are often genetic, whereas, food intolerances don’t and can affect anyone and at anytime. Children do tend to out-grow these reactions but there are chances that they would be stuck with it for their whole life ahead leading to adults. So if you or your children have been recently diagnosed with this life-changing revelation, here are some tips on how you can better manage.
Identifying the problem
If you think that your child has an allergy, you re-ally need to go to an allergy specialist to identify the food groups that are triggering the responses. An IgE blood test measures the blood level of antibodies which are proteins produced by the immune system that attack antigens, such as bacteria, viruses and allergens. There is also a skin prick test that is also very effective. These tests will identify the food groups such as dairy, wheat, soy, etc and environmental allergens such as grass seed, dust etc. There are more options if you think you have a food intolerance. You can do a standard food elimination test, there are many professionals who are advertising food testing and you can also take out a Food Test 500 developed by a naturopath as a bio compatibility test, which identifies which whole foods are no good to each individual tested and is also highly effective, requires no appointment, needles, blood tests etc.
Introduce alternate recipes
Once you identify the foods that are triggering your symptoms you then need to effectively avoid them in order for you system to heal and your symptoms to reduce. Now, it doesn’t end here. You will have to dig deeper to find out all the other processed, packaged food which might contain traces of the allergic food in them. So, start reading labels. For example if you are allergic to wheat or gluten you are best to look for foods that are labeled gluten free as these companies have had to test for traces of gluten. Ingredients such as maltodextrins, thickener etc can be derived from wheat. Try not to use anything that you are not too sure about. Know what you can and can’t eat so that you can prevent any im-pending danger in your life. There are many re-sources available to give you ideas on how to substitute and cook gluten free, dairy free, soy free and more.
Check out the recipe archives of What Can I Eat.
Stick together as a family
If someone has an allergy, it is already hard enough for them. Try not to make it harder by making them feel left out and deprived. The food that they are allergic to, the whole family should stop using that. No food or craving can be worth a person’s life. Be prepared if you are going out to dinner or on holidays, school excursions etc. You are sometimes better to just bring your own food.
In the case of children being diagnosed with allergies and food intolerances, provide caretakers and educators such as nannies, baby sitters, teachers, grandparents and every elderly person your child may get in contact with a full list of inflammatory foods not to give them. In the same way for an adult also, it is important to be very conscious about trying anything new. Read the labels and ingredients very carefully before you try out some new food. Most importantly, keep an allergy kit with you all the time that can be used in case of a reaction.
Join support groups
To help you out and cope with all the strict, stressful decisions you are taking in your life, join support groups. You can talk to other people there who are going through something similar; find emotional support when you are down and helpful tips that can make your life easier.
Being diagnosed with food allergy or food intolerance can certainly change a lot of things in your life but it is certainly not the end of it. There is a lot of support; advice and resources these days that will help you follow your new eating guide-lines successfully. It is much better than the suffering you have had to endure so date.
If you haven’t identified whether you have a food intolerance jump over and grab a copy of our Food Intolerance Questionaire.