Knowing your audience and writing in a voice made for that audience is more than a talent; its an art form that not everyone can pull off, especially if your audience is children. For children with a peanut allergy, a popular book series that deals with common health issues provides a friend and an advocate they can relate to.
Tolya Thompson, the highly creative author and publisher behind the Smarties book series for children, has such talent in spades. With colorful characters that children easily identify with, and kid-sized medical terms that will have them rolling with laughter (snot!), her young readers learn about common (and sometimes embarrassing) health issues that they (or someone they know) must face through priceless storytelling.
For kids who may feel like the ‘odd kid out’ due to a peanut allergy, Thompson’s latest edition, Fabulous Me, Piper Lee comes to the rescue! Suddenly they realize they’re not alone and have a better understanding — in kid terms — of how to manage the risks.
I first met Tolya, a Physican’s Assistant at Sutter Hospital’s ER in Roseville, CA, early in her career as an author developing the series. Since then, she’s added three new editions and has launched the Fabulous Me! campaign; a website devoted to giving kids and parents a behind-the-scenes tour of the emergency room, and tips about how to avoid becoming a patient. You can also learn more about Fabulous Me! (and ‘Like’ their page) on Facebook.
Like 911Snapshot, the Fabulous Me! campaign believes in education, information and prevention, including the importance of having (and keeping current) a medical information outline for your kids; what they term a Medical Health Document (MHD).
While a medical crisis and a trip to the ER is stressful for anyone, the emotional toll it can take on parents and young children is unequaled. Having a completed, up-to-date outline relieves parents of the stress involved with having to recall individual history, like medication and dosages, or dates and details of previous, or ongoing health problems. But even more important, it puts vital information into the hands of paramedics and ER physicians that can be digested quickly should the emergency be critical in nature for a child with a chronic medical condition.
Juvenile Diabetes and seizure disorders often pose a challenge with medications that frequently need to be adjusted for dosage, or changed altogether. It’s helpful under these circumstances for a parent to keep a record of the medications their child has taken in the past, what has worked well, or caused complications, and if it was changed, why.
A complete, printed outline also provides space for parents to note specific events or special concerns that their pediatrician is closely following, such as slow bone growth, issues related to motor function, speech and cognitive development, or weight (-/+ for age).
And of course, the more calm a parent can remain during an ER visit, the more calm their child might be as well, and being prepared on the ‘information front’ can go a long way. Having copies easily available for friends and family members who might provide child care is essential …and easy!
I’m anxious to see where The Smarties Series goes next, but one thing I’m sure of …there will be a colorful, vibrant new character to lead children to a better place of understanding and acceptance for both themselves and others. It’s simply the way the Smarties kids (and their fabulous creator) roll. Check ’em out. You’ll be glad you did, I’m sure.
If you’ve had the pleasure of reading any of the Smarties series with your kids, let us know your favorites in the comments section below …or better yet, your child’s favorite!
Be well, be informed and be proactive in your healthcare choices.