Home Lifestyle Allergy campaigner Julianne Ponan MBE to educate 1000s more children about allergies

Allergy campaigner Julianne Ponan MBE to educate 1000s more children about allergies

by TKOAdmin

CEO of the top 14 allergen-free brands, Creative Nature, Julianne Ponan MBE, will be educating thousands of children across the UK for a second year in a row this April about living with allergies.

Campaigner and entrepreneur Julianne is working with influencer Stephanie Hulme, education specialist Natalie Hopkins from The Allergy Badge, and Jay Dhanjal from Ash Friendly to deliver specialist free assemblies in schools across the country during Allergy Awareness Week, which this year is taking place 22-28 April. The assembly presentations have been approved and backed by Dr Jose Costa MD who is a consultant paediatrician who specialises in supporting children with allergies.

Last year the group reached more than 100,000 children and is hoping to top that number this year by getting the message out to more than 250,000 kids.

As well as providing education about what allergies are, the assemblies will explain what to do if someone in school has an allergic reaction and how to keep people with allergies safe at school. Julianne says she is looking forward to getting the message out to as many children as possible to provide awareness and support.

“I’ve lived with life-threatening allergies all my life and it made school very difficult for me, so I really do know what it’s like for children to have to manage these sorts of challenges,” said Julianne. “There is still a huge amount of work to be done when it comes to education and awareness around allergies, so I’m really pleased we’re rolling this out for a second year. Last year it was such a joy to know I was helping and giving something back — I’m keen to keep that going.”

In the UK, almost 50 per cent of children have been diagnosed with an allergy. UK rates are amongst the highest in the world and Julianne is hoping that as many schools as possible will take advantage of the free programme to help manage this challenge and educate all students and teachers.

The theme of Allergy Awareness Week 2024 is “childhood food allergies.” The number of people affected by food allergies has been on the rise in recent years. Along with asthma, eczema and hay fever, food allergies are the most common allergies found in children in the UK, often including severe reactions to eggs, milk, peanuts, wheat and soy. You can be allergic to more than one type of food and you have a slightly higher chance of developing a food allergy if you also live with other allergies, such as asthma or eczema. The most common symptoms in children include sudden swelling, hives, itching, vomiting and wheezing.

Julianne Ponan has numerous serious and complex allergies herself, which were first discovered when she was a toddler. She says that living with these often made her feel isolated as a child and that as she got older, she was determined to help others in a similar position and to inspire widespread education around the subject.

“One of the primary day-to-day difficulties of living with allergies is the availability of food that you can be confident is truly safe,” says Julianne. “It can make you reluctant to try anything new and general anxiety about what might be in prepared food or shop-bought snacks can be overwhelming at times. It can make you feel at risk and very restricted.”

To help combat the difficulties faced by living with food allergies, Julianne founded the award-winning company, Creative Nature, ten years ago. The business produces foods that are completely safe for anyone living with the top 14 allergens.

Julianne feels an important aspect of what she’s achieved in building Creative Nature is spreading the word about the importance of looking out for and managing allergies in children, especially as rates of allergy are on the rise. She is keen to hear from headteachers and senior school leaders who would like to host the free education programme to raise allergy awareness. The programme covers these subjects:

  • How to use an auto-injector, what it is and what it does.
  • Having empathy for friends who suffer from allergies, so that they don’t think they’re odd or weird.
  • How to help their friends by learning to eat safely – for example, making sure they wipe tables after they have eaten, in case they have eaten foods that will make their friends react.
  • Being aware of what foods their friend can’t eat, due to allergies.

The Food Standards Agency says there has been a 300 per cent rise in food allergies since 2021. Allergy Awareness Week takes place from 22-28 April 2024. Its theme this year is “childhood food allergies”

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