November 7, 2011

Food Allergies

One teen found a high-tech way to prevent a bad reaction.

Lauren Robinson: I have a severe dairy allergy.

Shelby: Stuck at home, active and outgoing Lauren Robinson is not in school with the other freshman at her high school. That is because her dairy allergies are so bad that being inside with other students could kill her.

Lauren: There’s kids touching the desk with their breakfast hands.

Shelby: And then if she touches that same desk, it could trigger her allergies and even turn deadly.

Her allergies might prevent her from attending class, but Lauren won’t let them keep her out of the classroom.

“Do you have that up in front of you?”

Lauren: Yes.

Shelby: With a little help from this wifi robot called a v-go, Lauren’s teachers and friends can see and talk with her while she is safe at home controlling the v-go from her keyboard.

“You’ve got the group on your far right.”

“When you’re looking at the screen, it’s like she’s right there with you.”

Shelby: And Lauren can see and talk to her teacher and friends, too. She can even work with a partner on a project in speech class.

Lauren: It feels like we’re just talking.

Shelby: Lauren’s dairy allergies are extreme, but her problem isn’t unique. Of the 12 million Americans who suffer from food allergies, an estimated 2.2 million of them are students. Recent studies show that teens are the highest risk group for deadly allergic reactions caused by food.

It is estimated that food allergies cause 150-200 deaths each year, but with improving technology, teens like Lauren don’t always have to miss out.

“You can see kids just light up when they see her. You know part of it is it’s a robot, and part of it’s Lauren. She has friends here.”

Shelby: The v-go robot cost the school $5,000, but the school principal says it is paying off.

“We’re hoping, long-term, it can save dollars and give better first instruction to our students because she can be in the classroom. She’s able to interact with kids the way that she would if she was in school. This is the next best thing.”

Lauren: I’m really sad that I had to miss my freshman year, but I’m very happy that I’m able to go to school through this because it feels like I’m having the same experiences they are.”

Shelby: Shelby Holliday, Channel One News.


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