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How this graduate is raising allergy awareness with a picture book

A graduate and guest tutor at the University of Sunderland (@sunderlanduni) has written a children’s book that aims to raise awareness about what it is like for a child to live with allergies.

Mirabel Lavelle was inspired to write her book Zeb, Jet and the Ice-Cream Calamity by her grandchildren, of which two of them suffer from allergies themselves.

Mirabel said:

“I have two grandsons who carry Epi-pens. I remember feeling anxious every time I looked after them and gave them something to eat. I triple checked everything and repeatedly scrubbed my kitchen surfaces and utensils.

“The initial idea for my bookcame about because I wanted to find a book that dealt with allergy safety in order to prevent accidental reactions in social situations centring around food.

“A few years ago, I remember a parent feeling nervous about inviting a child with a severe food allergy to a birthday party. He was left out – hence the book. I want to raise awareness, encourage inclusion and dispel myths.”

The book was also illustrated by fellow graduate Amelia Clark-Sutton who studied Fine Arts at the University of Sunderland.

Amelia said:

“To be involved in the creation of this book was a pleasure; it was lovely to work with Mirabel. As a fellow University of Sunderland Alumni, there was a pleasant familiarity when we were working together.

“I also have a young family member who lives with a dairy allergy, so I understand how important it is to spread awareness of how to prevent allergic reactions and what we can do to help if a reaction occurs.

“I also found Mirabel’s desire for the book to be accessible for people with dyslexia very inspiring. The text being placed over the blue sky and sea, the yellow sand-stone or green grass was intentional, as it can make it easier for people with dyslexia and Irlen syndrome to read.”

Mirabel has in the past worked closely with two local schools as well as parents and carers to create educational resource packs, including a song and sheet music to help spread the allergy safety message in order to better protect children who suffer from allergies.

Mirabel added:

“I hope that children will enjoy the story and grownups will be encouraged to support allergy sufferers by understanding their condition better.”

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