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Letter: Scouting Out Allergic Foods

I am currently a senior at New Hyde Park Memorial. The title of my Girl Scout Gold Award project was  “Lets Include Instead of Exclude.” The project consisted of different seminars for children from preschool through junior high school with food allergies and other restrictions. I chose to do this for my Girl Scout Gold Award project because I felt I had a lot of knowledge to share on this topic. I grew up with many allergies during my childhood and continue to deal with them.

I felt there was very little support and awareness for children with food allergies and other restrictions throughout my education. At first I invited the nursery and grammar schools in New Hyde Park to join me for an informational seminar in January at Gloria Dei Lutheran Church. My next target was the junior high school.  I ran classes, which consisted of a question and answer game. This kept the kids interested and learning at the same time.

I invited all of the New Hyde Park community to my food allergy jamboree on Jan. 23. The jamboree consisted of many samples of gluten free, dairy free, peanut free and other allergen free foods for children and parents to take home to try. There was also plenty of literature, epipen training and a display of local vendors who support families with allergies (Gourmet Bakery, McDonalds, Hand Rolled Bagels, Frantonis Pizzeria and Iceland.)

We also had a scavenger hunt game to help kids learn more about allergies. The raffles they won had helpful tips to help them feel included during their everyday life. When the Jamboree was completed, I reviewed all of the concerns I received from the attendees and discussed the feedback with the principals of the schools.  I distributed folders with helpful hints, epipen material and samples of products that can be useful to their students. I am hoping all this information will help the community to be more aware and sustain the topic to include instead of exclude. There are many obstacles a child will reach as they are growing up.  They need to realize they are not alone and the best way to help is communicating with others and supporting them.

Marisa Pugliese

New Hyde Park Memorial High School Senior