By Robyn Hochglaube (see bio below)
Raise your hand if you believe that being a teenager is (damn) hard. I can’t say I remember those days ‘fondly’ myself, although I can look back and acknowledge they were formative and full of life lessons – but hindsight is 20/20!
Now that I am a mom to three teens, ages 11, 14 and 16, I can appreciate even more how difficult those years are. Every teen is dealing with growth spurts, hormones and puberty, new social pressures, developing their sense of self, school stress, walking the fine line between independence and still needing mom and dad.
The social and emotional rollercoaster that we all experience as teenagers is one of those rites of passage that no one can avoid. And “Fitting In” is paramount and on everyone’s wish list – we all want to belong.
In fact that desire never goes away, it is a part of the human condition. It’s the core reason social media plays such a big part of our lives (and more for our kids!).
For teen allergies, fitting in can feel even more challenging. Having anaphylaxis makes them different from most of their peers. And different is not often considered ‘cool’.
Now ask them to wear a less than stylish Medic Alert bracelet, or an Epipen pouch – what response do you expect?
But what about safety being compromised for the sake of style or to save embarrassment?
A survey I conducted in May 2019 asked 55 parents of tweens and teens if they wore their anaphylaxis identifier. 75% of those parents answered that their teens refuse to wear an identifier because they haven’t found any wearables that look good, meet their style standards, and don’t embarrass them.
Survey respondents had children between the ages of 10 – 20 years, and across that wide span, the sentiments were the same. Style wins over safety – seriously!
In March of the same year, a parent of a teenage boy who connected with my company, Radtagz™, asked us to make one of our collectible tags to identify her son’s Anaphylaxis allergy on his newly purchased bracelet. My initial response was “Absolutely not!”. I could not support someone wearing such a small identifier for such an important piece of health information.
However, the more she shared with me, the more I understood her pain points. You see, her thirteen year old son refused to wear anything at all. Nothing was subtle enough to not attract too much attention, and all her suggestions were ‘uncool’. Everyday he left the house with no identifier to tell others he has severe allergies.
He was choosing to wear nothing, at age 13, to avoid looking different, or less stylish than his peers. But he loved his Radtagz™ and wore it daily, and agreed that if there was a tag that identified his anaphylaxis, he would add it next to his baseball and hockey tags.
So, wasn’t this small tag, better than nothing?
Turns out, he wasn’t the only one feeling this way. Parents from that survey I took in May 2019, also agreed that there was nothing on the market was ‘cool enough’ for teen allergies. They wanted something that wouldn’t stand out, but still be helpful when necessary.
One father went so far as to say if his 17 year old had a Radtagz™ it’s possible he would still be alive today.
So, I decided to create the first RadtagzRx™ Anaphylaxis Allergy Tag and decided to give it away for FREE to anyone who needs one with the hope that no one should be forced to make that choice (full disclosure, it’s free with the purchase of a bracelet).
As parents of teens we have enough to struggle with day to day. If you are like me at all, you worry about your kids, their futures, what the world will be like when they venture out on their own.
Teens have their own struggles and social media has made these more visible and visual – making their lives more public and their self-esteem more fragile.
Having serious allergies shouldn’t make any child feel different or less important. The RadtagzRx™ Anaphylaxis Allergy Tag is able to offer an allergy bracelet for kids, teens and adults that combines safety along with style.
A former Day Camp Director turned Entrepreneur, Robyn continues to be committed to helping build community and a sense of belonging with her new business, Radtagz™. Radtagz™ is her creation, a wearable that is intentionally gender neutral and conceived to take affiliations from online to offline with the collectible tags (aka. charms). Lovingly described as the ‘Pandora for All’, Radtagz™ works with Charities, Zoos and Aquariums, Festivals, High Schools and Sporting Organizations and of course Summer Camps, to deliver a wearable that builds connections and community around common interests, experiences and shared memories. Robyn lives in Toronto, Canada with her husband, three children and Willow the dog.