We are delighted to announce that Over The Wall has been awarded a Community Allergy Hero Award, by Allergy UK, for its allergy camp held in partnership with Anaphylaxis Campaign.
Over The Wall planned and hosted the residential camp for children aged 8-13, with severe or multiple allergies at risk of life threatening reactions, to enable them to enjoy a weekend without restriction, stigmatism and fear.
The nomination noted that, “The four-day camp catered for 20 children sharing over 45 allergies. Incredible effort was made to ensure the entire camp environment was safe, and a menu was created with multiple options at every meal where every single child could have every single item on the menu. Behind the scenes, extensive training for all staff and volunteers on allergies and anaphylaxis was provided, which was extended to anyone even visiting camp.”
Between them, the 20 campers had around 45 different allergies to food and the environment, all of which had to be either removed, reduced or mitigated against. Extensive consultation, and vigilance, was required to ensure the preparation and content of food was safe and posed minimal risk to campers and a bespoke menu was created and individual ingredients sourced. This menu had to be revised several times as campers were diagnosed with new allergies.
Nine-year old Josh, who has allergies to various food types including egg, nuts and sesame seeds, as well as asthma, attended the camp. His mum, Alicia said: “Josh raved about the food- it was wonderful. Imagine the feeling of being told he could eat anything from the buffet. He could do whatever he wanted to do, eat what he wanted for once. He is very used to being the one that has to sit out – so this was great for him. To be included rather than excluded. At school Josh has a packed lunch and sits on a particular table, that is cleaned thoroughly, and he has to wait for the go-ahead before he can sit down. Here he could sit anywhere – and he could enjoy the whole social aspect of eating.”
“What was really special for me was that the camp volunteers described him as ‘an outgoing boy’. This was a massive thing for us – because he’s not outgoing at school. The fact that camp brought that out of him was phenomenal. He felt so relaxed, safe and happy – that he could be himself, and be that outgoing person, rather than worry about a condition he simply happens to have.”
CEO of Over The Wall, Kevin Mathieson said: “There are very few opportunities for young people with severe allergies to come together, to stay away from home, be active, and eat together – without having to worry about their condition. We are incredibly proud that the success of his project has been recognised by Allergy UK. Over The Wall now plans to host another camp in 2018 with an increased number of campers helping even more children to improve their sense of self-worth, self-belief, self-confidence – to enhance their abilities, meet new friends and try new things.”
The one-off camp was made possible by funding from the Big Lottery Fund, Children in Need and The Openwork Foundation.