Before the winter break Sahil’s school held a French Cafe event where grade 8 students cooked crepes and other treats for students to buy and eat in school. It was to raise money for a local charity. All students were brought down class by class during the school day to participate but there were no safe options for those with food allergies. A note was sent home just days prior the event to say they could not guarantee nut-free food and the crepes contain egg.
Sahil said “Everything smelled so good, it made me hungry but there was nothing safe for me”.
In Sahil’s school there are students who are allergic to various allergens including nuts, soy, egg, dairy and sesame. There are crepe recipes which do not contain those allergens and there are many products available now which those dealing with food allergies are well versed in so that a safe crepe could have been made.
The school staff should have taken this opportunity to show empathy and compassion for those with food allergies. With some extra planning and preparation including consulting with the food allergic students and their parents they could have set this up to safely include all students.
But this was not done.
Many say to me that my kids should get used to being excluded. Sadly, my children are used to being excluded…but I say why? If I accept their exclusion I am failing my children. If I accept their exclusion I am teaching them they are not worth standing up for. But they are. They should expect to be included and if not they must advocate to be included. And I must advocate for them to be included. That is how changes are made.