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School Spotlight: Inly School in Massachusetts Raises the Bar
RAISING THE BAR: INLY SCHOOL IMPLEMENTS A SUCCESSFUL FOOD ALLERGY APPROACH
By Paul Antico
Inly School, in Scituate, Mass., is a pioneer in dealing with food allergies in schools, and continues to be progressive in its efforts today. Although a lot of educational institutions nationwide struggle to figure out how to accommodate students with food allergies, while keeping happy the other 94% of the parent and student population, Inly has been at the forefront, thanks to the efforts of its Head of School, Donna Luther.
A nut-free school for over 10 years, Inly also recognizes, and has successfully accommodated, students with a wide range of food allergies. The Inly faculty and staff understand the severity of food allergies, as does the Inly community of parents and students. The community recognizes and respects that these young children need to be accommodated and protected, and that they're just like every other child—they have play dates, they attend birthday parties and they go on field trips. All members of Inly's compassionate community take seriously their own role in ensuring that every student can comfortably experience the school's innovative educational opportunities. Existing as an allergy-friendly school for over 10 years has helped Inly cultivate such an understanding and respectful community.
It's sad to say that in this day and age it's a luxury to have a full-time nurse. Inly bucks the trend. School nurse Ruth Rizzi has trained the entire staff about food allergies and in the use of epinephrine auto-injectors. The school keeps epinephrine auto-injectors in all its classrooms, as well as in the nurse's office, something many schools do not even consider. Epinephrine auto-injectors are also brought on all field trips and overnight excursions. Because Inly prefers to have its school nurse administer epinephrine whenever possible, Rizzi carries a specific cell phone at all times to be alerted if a child is experiencing an anaphylactic reaction or seizure. One push of a button on the classroom phone will ring this cell phone. Inly's nurse also maintains a binder containing folders with key information for each student's food allergies, so this critical information can be immediately handed over to paramedics in an emergency.
Now, thanks to the efforts of thoughtful parents, Inly has a food allergy support group that discusses and shares ideas amongst each other and the rest of the community in an interesting, informative, yet non-intrusive, manner.
In essence, Inly is a ground-breaking and successful example of a school that properly accommodates, cares for and protects students with food allergies. The entire community—faculty, staff, parents and students—has every reason to be proud of their school's progressiveness in managing food allergies in an educational setting, as well as in their own understanding and compassion toward students who are forced to deal with these allergies every day. Inly truly is a role model for all the schools in America facing this critical issue.
Paul Antico is a father of five, three of whom have food allergies. He is president of the board of directors for the Inly school, serves on two other food allergy non-profit boards, and is the Founder of AllergyEats (www.allergyeats.com), the largest and fastest-growing peer-rated guide to allergy-friendly restaurants.
Approved by KFA's Medical Advisory Team September 2011.