ISPUP launches competitions to raise awareness about allergy prevention in schools

The Instituto de Saúde Pública da Universidade do Porto (ISPUP) is challenging primary, middle school, and secondary school students to participate in three contests dedicated to the topic of allergies. The aim is to contribute to a greater awareness of the importance of allergy prevention among the school community.

The contests, carried out by ISPUP, are being organised within the scope of AlergiaPT – an ISPUP project that aims to inspire Portuguese people with allergies to have a more positive attitude towards life via a social media-based campaign.

As André Moreira, coordinator of AlergiaPT and responsible for the contests, explains: “we want to raise awareness in the school community regarding the importance of allergies by encouraging students to present works via social media related to allergy tolerance, prevention of severe allergies, and improving air quality. The best entries will win prizes”.

The launch of the contests is accompanied by a current context in which schools are expected to receive training on food allergies in order to prevent, recognise and act when a student has an anaphylactic reaction, during the coming school year.

“In our opinion, the contests we want to launch make perfect sense at a time when schools are beginning to understand that it is necessary to act to prevent adverse allergic reactions. We want to contribute and ensure that students have a greater contact with the topic of allergies and that they get to know, through the works that they will submit, more positive ways of dealing with allergies”, says André Moreira.

The case of Natasha’s Law and the call for attention for the impact of allergic reactions

The ISPUP researcher highlights the importance that the issue of allergies has been gaining at an international level with the case of Natasha, a 15-year-old British teenager who died on a plane trip in 2016 after eating a sandwich bought at the airport, which contained a potential allergen that was not identified on the packaging label.

After the death of the teenager, to whom a foundation was dedicated, the so-called “Natasha’s law” was created in 2021. With this law, food companies are obliged to include all ingredients, including allergens, on the labels of pre-packaged products. The aim is to prevent more people dying from unknowingly eating food containing allergenic ingredients.

“With AlergiaPT, we also want to draw attention to the problem of food allergies, which can lead to death if not prevented. We have even produced, within the scope of the project, a set of recipes that can be made without allergenic ingredients, such as milk and eggs, and that citizens and schools are free to use” he says.

“With this competition, we want to put all of these topics on the agenda, helping students and teachers deepen their knowledge about allergies in a fun and relaxed way”, he says. 

The contests categories

Three contests have been created in order to reach out to different school years. Entitled “The Allergy Detective”, “Social Allergy”, and “TikTok and AlergiaPT”, these three challenges have been developed aimed at primary, middle, and high school students, respectively.

The competition has been launched and is open until April 13, 2022.

The team behind the contest will award prizes to the two best student works from each of the different educational levels. Prizes will be awarded at the closing ceremony of the AlergiaPT project on May 4, 2022.

The competition rules are available on the project website.

AlergiaPT, promoted by ISPUP, was one of the winners of the This is Public Health (TIPH) Global Grant Program, the funding program created by the International Association of Schools and Programs of Public Health, which awards initiatives related to the dissemination and promotion of the importance of public health.

Image:  Taylor WilcoxUnsplash

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