What are allergy support groups? It’s a community of people impacted by allergies who come together to provide a warm and caring environment while discussing the day-to-day stress of being at risk of anaphylaxis, or having a child who is at risk. Plus, it’s a great way to keep up-to-date on any new developments in the food allergy community.
There are many reasons for joining one of our support groups. We’ve listed five of them.
1. At first diagnosis
Let’s face it. The weeks and months immediately following an allergy diagnosis can be bewildering, even frightening. And when the diagnosis involves one or more food allergies, there is initially so much to learn like reading ingredient labels, preparing foods safely, educating and getting support from family and friends, and knowing what to do in an emergency. It can feel like a lot to take in at once. This is where our support groups can be especially useful.
Our groups offer information about a range of topics related to living with food allergies, and provide resources where you can quickly learn the basics of coping and thriving with the new normal in your life as a parent of one or more children with food allergies.
2. Being in the loop
Another related benefit of being part of a support group is easier access to information about developments in the field of allergy research, including new therapies.
3. Knowing you’re not alone
As the poet John Donne wrote, no one is an island. The tremendous power of a support group is to bring together individuals managing allergies on their own, and in so doing, transform a network of sometimes isolated people into a community of allies who truly ‘get it.’ As Montreal Anaphylaxis Support Group leader Carla Da Silva expresses it, “Connecting with others that are living with similar experiences provides a sense of community – a way of connecting with other people who really understand the daily challenges of living with food allergies.”
4. Access to special events
From time to time, in addition to in-person or online meetings, our support groups may hold fun events such as allergen-free holiday celebrations or special, allergy-themed visits from performers or celebrities. Every group is different, and as with any volunteer-run support group, members often have the grassroots ability to work with the group leader/s to help make exciting events happen.
5. Opportunities for advocacy
Our support groups have the power to effect positive change in their communities. For example, parents of children with food allergies can work with their local schools to promote allergy awareness, or write letters to companies to register their comments and concerns about ingredient changes. We always involve our support groups in our advocacy initiatives.
Connect wtih one of our support groups. If there isn’t one in your community, we’ll help you get one started.