Have you heard of Allergy Adventures? If not, you most certainly should have…. In fact, any of you who have been to any of the Allergy Shows around the country, will have probably have seen Hailey running her extremely active and bouncy Allergy Adventures play areas within the show – indeed, you may even have been dragged there by your children…
She had a very nasty reaction to her boiled egg and it turned out that she had an anaphylactic allergy to egg – with all that that entails. As a coeliac herself, Hailey knew only too well the difficulties of being a kid with a food allergy but, when her niece came home in tears from a birthday party because she could not eat the birthday cake, Hailey decided that there had to be a better way to manage children’s food allergies. Yes, of course those allergies are serious, but surely they could be managed safely but yet in a fun way?
As a graphic artist, she immediately turned to cartoons and visual games – and her first venture was to create adventure story books around each of the allergies featuring her cast of allergy friends: Didge who is allergic to milk (this is Didge), Minoo who is allergic to egg, Baffle who has a wheat allergy, Woot who has a nut allergy, Boskus who is peanut allergic – and many more.
The books are filled with rhymes and activities which can be used either at home or in school. For example, in the Egg Free story book you can ‘join Minoo and his magical lunchbox as he goes on an egg-free adventure to the circus! Meet the onion ringmaster with a watermelon umbrella and watch Rocket Man shoot out of his carrot cannon…but where is he going to land?’
There are four story books (only £6.99 each) plus activity packs, posters and stickers.
Once her niece was old enough to get involved in food preparation, the two of them moved on to videos with recipes attached – fun, fast moving, easy to make recipes, lots of useful tips and sensible allergen warnings. See her You Tube channel for Mini pancake kebabs, Chicken dippers with traffic light dips, UFO bagels, Bunny Hunt Mint Choc Biscuits, Gluten-free pepperoni doughballs, Jelly Berries, Playdough and many more.
Meanwhile, Hailey had created a site, Allergy Adventures, and a selection of moving and interactive puzzles, rhymes and games all involving those allergy friends.
Her next idea was to create a brightly coloured fun ‘passport’ to distract children going for what are often quite traumatic and distressing hospital appointments. They get their passport ‘stamped’ as they complete each stage of their visit – seeing the nurse, having skin prick tests etc – and then at the end they get stickers and a reward certificate.
The passports have been a great success. (‘They’ve made children who are otherwise very anxious really engage with the hospital experience – it gives them a sense of achievement.’ says Dr Adam Fox, director of Guys’ & St Thomas’ Paediatric Allergy Clinic) And the passports have now been picked up by a number of clinics across the country. For more on the passports check in to the Passport page of the Allergy Adventures site.
But the most exciting and probably the most influential of her ideas has been her Allergy Adventures Workshops. Four 50 minute lesson videos for 5–7 year olds and for 7–11 year olds:
- What is food allergy?
- Why do allergic reactions occur?
- How to avoid cross contamination
- Keep friends with food allergies safe!
These come complete with a detailed lesson plan, classroom lists, activity sheets and reward certificates – and with cross curricular links from PSHE (into which they naturally fall) to core subjects including science, literacy, design and technology and art.
The are so constructed that the teacher really does not need to know anything about allergy but can just put them on and play them – but Hailey is also happy to run workshops in schools introducing the videos which the school can then use themselves afterwards.
And the really amazing thing about them is that, thanks to support from the Wellcome Trust, the packs are absolutely free.
These packs are SUCH a good resource that I really encourage anybody with school age children with even the slightest interest in allergy to try to interest their local school in them. Because they are totally self contained, it involves the school in no expense and virtually no effort – yet ticks all the boxes about responsible management of allergy within their school.
Meanwhile sign up for Hailey’s newsletter (links at the bottom of each page of the site) and put the word out about her works wherever you can. She is doing a fantastic job and deserves all of support we can all give her!!