How to help kids keep a lid on allergies
EVERY day when Markeeta Culley drops her son Zavier at kindergarten, she leaves not knowing if he will have an allergic reaction that could be fatal.
The four-year-old is severely allergic to dairy, eggs, shellfish, peanuts, sesame seeds, kiwi fruit, rosin - a preservative found in chalk - as well as dogs, sunscreen, dust mites and grass seed.
But the staff, parents and children at Nambour Community Pre-School and Kindergarten have eased Markeeta's nerves by educating their kindy community about danger foods.
For Food Allergy Week, the kindergarten hosted events and encouraged all students to take part.
On Thursday, they painted one fingernail as an initiative of the week to symbolise the one in 10 children now born with a food allergy.
They also focused on educational activities by reading books on food allergies, holding up signs to signal danger foods, and talking about how Zavier can feel included by bringing his safe foods to school.
The kindy's Desley Lanham said the students had a good understanding of safe foods and checked each other's lunch boxes themselves.
"We've had allergies before at the kindy but this was a learning curve," Desley said.
"Markeeta has been wonderful with education and our parents are also educating at home, too."
The children can list the foods Zavier can't eat and actively look out for their friend.
Zavier has to carry two EpiPens with him everywhere he goes and practised on his peers with a fake pen as they lined up.
He gently administered the "pen" and then rubbed their leg for 10 seconds.
Mum Markeeta said her kind little boy was always included at the kindy.
"He's been coming here since January and at the start I was nervous and I would stay here, because I just didn't know how many reactions he would have," Markeeta said.
"But now I drop him off and know he's fine.
"They're fantastic here. Zavier does everything - he is always included.
"They have been very vigilant and have introduced safety measures to make sure he will be okay."