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My other important title is ‘allergy mum’ because it’s an all-consuming, full-time role. It’s not a role that I volunteered for and it’s certainly not one that I held any prior experience in. However, it’s a responsibility that I’ve become passionate about and one that I’ve been forced to research and learn about through my personal experience and via people in the supportive and brave allergy communities around Australia and the globe.
My first child, Charlie, was born on the 26th April 2012 and presented with eczema and relentless colic crying. I was told it was normal for newborns and he’d grow out of it, but it was never suggested these symptoms could potentially be linked to food allergies.
At seven months old, Charlie had his first reaction to dairy when some yoghurt just touched his lips. An appointment with an allergist three months later confirmed he was allergic to dairy, egg, peanuts and tree nuts.
It was a confusing time as Charlie loved food as a baby and he was never a fussy eater. Now I was left with the task of keeping him safe from these dangerous everyday foods that
surrounded us wherever we went. I was scared and sad about the future for my poor little baby.
So many questions ran through my mind in the days that followed. How was I going to keep him safe from these everyday foods that had the ability to harm him and potentially kill him? How could I return to work and put him in someone else's care? What about kindergarten and school? What about birthdays, Easter, Christmas and all the other social events that fill the calendar?
How will he live a normal, yet safe life?
There have been plenty of close calls, many mild allergic reactions and three anaphylactic reactions, resulting in ambulance rides and time spent in hospital with Charlie. During one of these hospitals stays, the original concept for Charlie’s Safe Treat Box started developing in my mind - a simple vending machine stocked with allergy-friendly treats for those living with food allergies.
I knew it was a desperately needed solution for those in the food allergy community.
It’s to help those within the allergy community to feel included, worry-free, and less burdened to bring their own snacks all the time, it’s to help our children feel socially included and free when making food choices, especially when they’re away from us, their parents.
It’s also not just for children, it’s for everyone of all ages that want to feel the ease that comes with having safe food options.
Charlie’s Safe Treat Box is created with love for those of us in the allergy community, by a parent that understands the challenges, risks and exhaustion of living in fear of allergic reactions.
Together, as a community, we can make the world safer and more inclusive for individuals and families affected by food allergies.
Charlie is a big-hearted, talkative, sports-loving, normal, everyday boy with the exception that he’s always lived with the heavy and invisible burden of multiple life threatening food allergies. Whilst this is his version of normal, it has certainly created stresses, worries and anxieties that the average child never has to experience.
Charlie is very proud and excited to be the reason behind Charlie’s Safe Treat Box. He’s a driving force in deciding which treats to stock (he even taste tests them) and he loves to help others living with food allergies.
Sharon is qualified as a Certified Practicing Accountant (CPA), holds a certificate in Team Leader Training, a certificate IV in Frontline Management, and has worked in both the health and travel industries. Her most recent and most important experience is being an allergy mum.
Sharon is a mum to Charlie, Arnold and Evelyn; she became an official allergy mum after Charlie had his first allergic reaction and was diagnosed with multiple life threatening food allergies.
In 2019, Sharon founded Charlie's Safe Treat Box. It was created by a need to protect our children from allergic reactions by creating a safe space to access food that is free from the top 10 food allergens via vending machines placed in convenient locations around the country.
Sharon is an active participant and contributor in many allergy communities in Australia and the globe.
It is Sharon's life mission to make the world safer and more inclusive for families affected by food allergies. Because she has experienced the stress, heartache and frustration of having a child with life-threatening allergies in a world that doesn't always understand them. And she believes allergy kids and their parents/carers deserve better."