Extracurricular Activities with Allergies!

Hi everyone! My name is Lindsay, and I am a third year student at the University of Guelph. I am allergic to peanuts, tree nuts, and soy protein, and I am also lactose intolerant.

Whether you are in high school or pursuing post secondary education, it is so important to become involved in extracurricular activities. This is a great way to make friends, find something that you are passionate about, and have fun!

When it comes to participating in clubs and sport activities, make sure that you always carry your epinephrine auto-injector with you. You might not think that you are at risk of a reaction while at soccer practice, but you never know what could happen! It is so simple to slip your auto-injector into your backpack or sports bag. I have multiple auto-injectors, so I keep one in my backpack, one in my purse, and one in my gym bag. That way, no matter where I’m going, I don’t have to worry about forgetting to pack it.

Also, remember to tell your teammates or other club members about your allergies. It is very important that those whom you are spending a time with know what you are allergic to and what to do in case of a reaction. Especially if snacks are involved at the meetings or practices, everyone needs to be aware of your allergies.

At university, I have found that there are tons of different opportunities to get involved, both on and off campus. I have made sure not to let my allergies get in the way of my ability to participate in all that I want to. I am a member of many clubs on campus, including the Pre-Med Club, Bio-Medical Science Students Association, and the Competitive Hip Hop Team.

For those of you who feel limited in what you can do because of your allergies. I have a suggestion for you to try! Last year, a friend and I decided to start our own allergy awareness club on campus. Both of us suffer from severe allergies and wanted to create a club for other students who do as well. This year, we officially created our group, called “The Food Fighters,” and we have a growing membership. Some of our initiatives include educating students and staff in residence about epinephrine auto-injector use, working to make the cafeterias more allergy friendly, and providing support to first year students at risk of anaphylaxis.

So, if you feel like you can’t be a member of a team or a club at school due to your allergies, make a club about allergies! It is something that many schools would be happy to support, since they want to be inclusive and cater to students’ needs.

I hope that you all have a fantastic school year and get involved in as much as possible! Don’t let your allergies limit you in anything that you do. There is almost always a way to participate while safely managing your allergies.

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Our Anaphylaxis Community Conference!

Portrait of Lindsay

Hi all! My name is Lindsay, and I’m allergic to peanuts, tree nuts, and soy protein. I’m also lactose intolerant.

This past weekend, I was fortunate enough to travel to Winnipeg, Manitoba with my fellow YAP member, Joanna, and our Program Coordinator, Heather, for the annual Anaphylaxis Community Conference. I learned so many things, despite having dealt with anaphylaxis my whole life. I thought I would share some of the cool things that I learned!

Promotional image for 2012 Anaphylaxis Canada Community Conference

In the morning, we got the opportunity to listen to a line-up of amazing speakers, including Laurie Harada, Dr. Estelle Simons, a local Teen Panel, and Dr. Thomas Gerstner.

Laurie Harada, the Executive Director of Anaphylaxis Canada, had great insight into being a mom of an allergic teenager and how A.C. works to create allergy safe communities. Did you know that us teenagers are the most risk-taking group with our allergies? That’s why there is such a big focus on our age group and helping us to become more allergy conscious and safe.

Dr. Simons is a leading researcher at the University of Manitoba who discussed anaphylaxis in community settings. One cool thing I learned from her was that when you are having an anaphylactic reaction, it is best to remain lying down with your feet propped up. It is also very dangerous to sit or stand up too quickly!

The Teen Panel consisted of three Manitoban youth who answered a lot of great questions (asked by parents of younger children) about growing up with food allergies. Having never used my epinephrine auto-injector before, it was really reassuring to learn that it doesn’t hurt! A few of the youth have had multiple experiences with their auto-injectors, and they said that you don’t feel a thing when injected!

Before our lunch break, we heard from the allergist, Dr. Gerstner. He discussed the “nuts and bolts” of anaphylaxis, going through many questions that he commonly gets from patients. Something interesting that I learned from him is that if you are allergic to fish and it is being fried in the vicinity, it is possible for you to have an anaphylactic reaction. The frying of the fish aerosolizes protein particles, which you can then inhale through your nose or mouth. In contrast, odours alone do not contain protein particles and cannot cause a reaction.

After having a very allergy safe lunch it was time for our YAP-organized Youth Session! We had a great turn-out of 12 allergic youth from the Winnipeg area, ranging in age from 13 and up. I had a great time working with those teens and discussing topics such as travelling, dating, high school, university/college, and partying. I learned a lot from them, and I hope that they learned a lot from us!

We also got an opportunity to talk with Dr. Gerstner in a relaxed, youth-only setting. It was great to have an allergist with us to answer all of our burning anaphylaxis questions. One very important thing that we learned is not to be afraid of using your auto-injector! If you have any sort of needle phobia, talk to your allergist to see if it is possible to use your auto-injector while in their office. Dr. Gerstner did this with one of his patients, and after realizing how easy and pain-free it was, it completely changed her outlook and approach to allergy management.

Although I was exhausted by the end of the conference, it was an invaluable experience that I will never forget. I got to meet a lot of incredible people who work for Anaphylaxis Canada, leading allergists and researchers, and members of the local allergy community. More importantly, I feel that YAP was able to leave our mark in Winnipeg, Manitoba, and I can’t wait to do it again in a new location next year!

Youth Session booklet from 2012 Anaphylaxis Canada Community Conference

To find an event like this in your neighbourhood, visit Anaphylaxis Canada’s Events page!

To help organize future events, become a volunteer or join our Youth Advisory Panel!

To catch up on what you missed in Winnipeg, download our Youth Session Booklet!