HomeMaking an impact by shining a teal light: One family shares their story.

Making an impact by shining a teal light: One family shares their story.

November 8, 2019

Rylan wearing his Shine a Light bracelet
Rylan, 11, wearing his Shine a Light bracelet

Canadians across the country have made a real impact with our #ShineATealLight campaign. From turning their porch lights teal, to making teal lantern crafts, to wearing our “Shine a Light” bracelets – we have made a collective difference by sparking conversation and increasing food allergy awareness.

We spoke with Deborah Eller from St. Catharines, Ontario on her experience participating in our #ShineATealLight campaign and the response it received from her community.

How are you impacted by food allergy and what prompted you to buy Shine a Light bracelets?

My 11-year-old great-nephew, Rylan, was diagnosed with food allergy to tree nuts and mango about four years ago. When I saw the Shine a Light bracelets in Food Allergy Canada’s newsletter, I thought it was a great way to inform our community and network of family and friends about food allergy and spread awareness.

The bracelets are a tangible way to spark conversation, from school, to hockey games, to the fire department where Rylan’s dad is a firefighter. We have an opportunity to make a difference in our community by making others allergy aware. When I saw the bracelets, I thought they were a great visual that people may see and ask us about.

What was the reaction you received from community members who noticed your teal bracelet?

Bracelet picture on white background

On the day I got the bracelets, we were going to a hockey game that night. I was so excited and decided that handing out the bracelets at the game would be a perfect way to activate and start spreading allergy awareness.

It was a great experience! As the lights went off for the singing of the national anthem, the bracelets began glowing up. The people who were sitting next to us immediately asked after the anthem, “hey, what are those bracelets? I’ve never seen a teal one.” We then had a conversation about food allergy throughout the game.

Throughout our community, it was interesting to see how many people stopped to ask us what the bracelets were for. For example, we were asked about the bracelets at the grocery and drug stores as we were walking around. I also gave bracelets to my neighbor who is a teacher, and a lot of people asked her at school about the bracelet.

It was the chain effect of one voice becoming many. If you say something to one person and make a difference, hopefully that person continues to spread the word to amplify our voice. I found that people in my community who were not impacted by food allergy personally started to become more aware and joined the movement to spread allergy awareness too.

How will you shine a light on food allergy next year, will you be participating in Food Allergy Awareness Month in May? Will you be wearing your Shine a Light bracelets?

Our family will be wearing our Shine a Light bracelets as often as possible! We take every opportunity to talk about food allergy and make people aware, even with extended family and friends. We let them know about Food Allergy Canada’s website for helpful information and resources and how they can help support Food Allergy Canada’s projects and advocacy efforts.

I was very excited and pleased that we had such a great response to the bracelets, and we will continue to wear them. I thought it was great that in the first couple of hours wearing the bracelets, we reached people and made them allergy aware.

What do you think the general public should know about having food allergy, and what do you think is the best way to educate others?

Food allergy is not a joke and it needs to be taken seriously. Not only does it impact the daily life of an allergic individual, but it also affects their family and friends.

Our voice is strong, and I believe talking about food allergy with as many people as we can is the best way to educate others on the seriousness of this medical condition.

Thank you Deborah for spreading food allergy awareness and participating in our #ShineATealLight campaign!

If you missed the chance to order your Shine a Light bracelets over Halloween, don’t worry! You can order them in May for Food Allergy Awareness Month. If you need the bracelets before May next year, contact us and let us know.

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