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Churton Park School Embrace CAW

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Coeliac awareness week 2021 is my first. Last year, I had no idea what coeliac disease was. Now I have two boys with it; Dominic (7yrs), diagnosed in October last year, and Evander (4yrs), diagnosed a month later.  Dominic is the only coeliac kid at his school, and Evander the only one at his kindergarten. In my journey discovering how to parent two coeliac kids, the school and kindy have been learning alongside.

For coeliac awareness week, Dominic’s teacher Brydie suggested a class exploration to raise awareness. Their learning theme for the term is empathy. We planned collaborative teaching activities where I could share my knowledge and she provided fun exploratory learning for Dominic’s class.

Brydie began with Millie’s Story from the Coeliac Kids Activity Workbook, then together we lead a discussion using a slide show about what coeliac is. Dominic told the story of his first day of school, when he vomited after eating his lunch. We then split into groups. Brydie was in the kitchen, where she had prepared ingredients and clean equipment to make gf chocolate brownie. She took groups of 10 kids at a time and made batches of brownie over the morning. Dominic’s best friend announced it was the best brownie he had ever tasted. I lead the Nanogirl Stomach Acid experiment. Two pairs of kids did the experiment at a time. They all loved drawing stomachs and intestines on their ‘stomach’ bags and squishing the gf bread and soda together. The class decided at the end they had made vomit. I was supplied with a constant stream of students by Tania, the class teacher who facilitated the activities for those not baking or doing science. We used the wordfind from the Activity Book and created an online activity where the kids had to prepare a gluten free birthday party, selecting appropriate foods from a picture list. We finished off for morning tea by sharing bags of Bluebird GF chips, kindly donated to us for the occasion.

I felt doing this collaborative learning session with Dominic’s class was a real highlight. We’ve struggled with other parents who don’t understand, and with attitudes that I’m being fussy. The school is now well informed for both Dominic’s and Evander’s schooling over the next few years. I am grateful for the amazing support from the staff at Churton Park School and especially Brydie Wolfe and Tania Horton.

Content provided by Coeliac NZ member: Andrea Wilson

For more information about the experiements developed by NanoGirl’s Lab and to download the instructions see here.

These include

  • How the body effectively absorbs nutrients – and what happens when the small intestine is damaged due to coeliac disease
  • Testing iron in GF cereal – and why the villi in the small intestine in people with coeliac disease is defective

A tip from Dr Kate Sparks to set up the GF cereal experiment..."I recommend that anyone trying this experiment use the strongest magnet they can find to help get the best result. For those doing this at home, we know that is likely to be a fridge magnet. This experiment has been tested with fridge magnets as well as stronger ones. The size of magnets might make a difference here - those large, flat, bendy magnetic fridge stickers don't seem to work as well as the smaller, thicker, rounder magnets. You might like to double up the magnets if just one isn't strong enough - otherwise, if no magnet seems to be working at all, your might be able to get a better result with slightly more water in the bag to make sure that the cereal is soaked and really soggy, as this will help any magnetic particles to be able to move freely through the cereal mush. The experiment has been tested with both the Healtheries Gluten Free Berry De-Lite cereal and Hubbards Gluten-Free Corn Flakes. I hope this helps your readers and that they enjoy experimenting!"

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