HomeCongratulations to the recipients of the 2023 Sabrina Shannon Memorial Award

Congratulations to the recipients of the 2023 Sabrina Shannon Memorial Award

June 16, 2023

The Sabrina Shannon Memorial Award is a Food Allergy Canada sponsored award, made possible through an educational grant from TD Securities. Two individuals in post-secondary school who have contributed significantly to the Canadian food allergy community are selected for a $1,000 award. The award is dedicated to the life of Sabrina Shannon.

This year, our winners are Benjamin Cruickshank and Christian Kennedy. We applaud them for their outstanding commitment to raising allergy awareness and educating others.

Meet Benjamin Cruickshank

Benjamin Cruickshank

Benjamin is a 17-year-old with multiple food allergies who will be entering his first year at Trent University in Ontario to pursue child and youth studies. At a young age, he learned about the importance of raising awareness of food allergy, and has since taken many opportunities to advocate and educate others on the condition. 

When he was younger, Benjamin participated in the initial session of Food Allergy Canada’s Allergy Pals/Allies online mentorship program. Joining the program as a mentee, he learned strategies for managing food allergy from experienced peer mentors. He was also featured in a promotional video for the program, and explained how the program was instrumental in helping him learn how to deal with everyday situations through role-playing. These events inspired him to become a junior mentor to help support the next generation of kids with food allergies. He has held this role for several years and is still involved with the program today.  

In his earlier days at school, he met with his teachers when he felt the environment was unsafe for food allergies and together they would work to make improvements. In later years as a high school student, he took part in an online panel of students who discussed how to manage food allergy, as part of a Food Allergy Canada webinar on managing food allergy in middle and high school. Outside of school, he volunteered to be interviewed on video to support Food Allergy Canada’s National Food Allergy Action Plan; the video highlighted the patient’s perspective on what it’s like to live with food allergy. He has also participated in walks and other events to help raise funds for allergy research. These are great examples of collaboration, education, advocacy, and fundraising. 

We congratulate Benjamin as a well-deserving recipient of this year’s award and look forward to his ongoing impact as a champion for those with food allergy.

Meet Christian Kennedy

Christian is a 21-year-old who is continuing post-secondary studies at the Ivey Business School at Western University in Ontario. He is allergic to peanuts, and has focused on helping others with food allergy navigate everyday situations safely.

By leveraging social media, Christian has helped spread food allergy awareness. He has recounted his personal experiences with food allergy, and noted the toll it can take on one’s mental health. He has also covered topics such as the differences between food allergies and food intolerances, cross-contamination, and how to read ingredient labels. Through posts and stories, Christian has reached a diverse audience, including young adults and parents of children with food allergies. 

Christian has also raised awareness by organizing a workshop at an allergy-friendly bakery. As part of the session, Christian shared tips for safe baking and cooking practices, such as using separate utensils and equipment to prevent cross-contamination. The workshop also covered common food allergens, symptoms of an allergic reaction, and how to respond in an emergency. Attendees included families with children who have food allergies, college students, and food bloggers.

Additionally, Christian has volunteered in the walks of various organizations dedicated to raising food allergy awareness and has shared their educational materials. Through these opportunities, he has been able to reach an even broader audience, including educators, healthcare professionals, policymakers, and the public. He believes that educating others about food allergy can help create a safer, more inclusive environment for everyone.

We congratulate Christian on his efforts to raise food allergy awareness, and we are proud to name him as a recipient of this year’s award.

Our congratulations to these two remarkable and accomplished young people! To learn more about the Sabrina Shannon Memorial Award, visit our community awards page.

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