Early January, seven-year old Ammaria Johnson died of “cardiac arrest and anaphylaxis” due to eating a peanut on her school’s playground.  Shortly after eating the nut, Ammaria made her teacher aware of discomfort she felt in her throat, and was thus taken to the school nurse.  She was pronounced dead when eventually arriving at the hospital in her local town.

The drama and controversy due to this tragedy cannot be overlooked.  Essentially, everyone (including her mom, the school, the system, etc.) is responsible for this death; however, no one being or entity is completely at fault.  The fault should be put on the way in which “WE” educate others on allergies, especially those of children.  Lack of education, while a seemingly boring, topic and lack of proactivity are crucial factors that lead to Ammaria’s accidental death.

The innocent, young boy or girl who unknowingly gave his/her classmate a deadly snack should have been given a way of knowing that such an act would’ve lead to the worst possible result.  The teacher should have made all of her students repetitively aware (almost to the point of exasperation) that any “funny business” with nuts or other food items could have consequences.  The mom should have put an emergency bracelet or necklace on Ammaria so all others knew she had a problem.  Teachers in general should have equipment on hand and proper training regarding ways to immediately react to allergies.  However, should haves aren’t going to bring her back.

Allergies are on the rise, so we must to be more proactive than reactive when it comes to such life-or-death situations.  Most allergy reactions caused by nuts can be avoided, yet they are still happening everywhere: on airplanes, in restaurants with buffets, in dining halls, in bakeries, on the school playground.  If we start educating each level in the chain of command on what to do with those who have allergies, then these tragedies can vanish.  Allergies are a disability; if a school had no ramps or elevators and a wheelchair-bound boy fell off his wheelchair while trying to get to the second floor via the stairs, would we kick him while he was on the ground? No. We have means of helping those who cannot fully help themselves in order to give each individual the most normal life possible.

As thousands have already responded to Ammaria’s story, I would love to hear your feedback.


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