Everybody loves sugary birthday treats, but the fact is that in a school setting, those same treats can exclude–or even be downright dangerous to–kids who have food allergies.
Food allergy parents everywhere struggle balancing safety, inclusion, and fun when it comes to school celebrations–especially when it comes to negotiating with other kids (and their parents.) The Food Free Party is often suggested but usually rejected by parents (and educators) who declare that denying sugary treats ruins childhood. If you’ve suggested this yourself, there’s a good chance you’ve encountered resistance or resentment.
Well, the next time someone tells you a Food-Free birthday celebration would be lame, tell them they’re doing it wrong!
This party evolved after I joined our school’s Health and Wellness Committee late last school year. I was surprised to see that a policy had been written (but seldom implemented) that said 50% of celebration time should involve a physical activity, and that food should be healthy snacks. Healthy snacks, especially if they involve single-ingredient fruits and veggies, tend to be more inclusive to most kids with food allergies, but it was the physical activity part that sparked this idea. I thought of how much our kids love playing with the glow sticks we buy for the 4th of July, and thought I’d apply that to the larger group.
I first ran it past our PE teacher (who is the head of the Wellness Committee), and after confirming that she was willing to host and had a free period, I checked with my son’s classroom teacher. Everybody was on board and thought it sounded like a fun idea. Our PE teacher kept calling it “Zax’s Rave!”
Read more of this SUPER cool idea and what our school did for future parties here!