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Why I’m Grateful to ‘We Bare Bears’ as Someone With Food Allergies

According to FARE (Food Allergy Research and Education), an organization dedicated to food allergy advocacy and education, 15 million Americans have food allergies. With more children being diagnosed with food allergies every year, it’s important for children to learn about food allergies. But, with the majority of food allergy media and education targeted at adults, it can be difficult for children to understand what food allergies are, how they affect someone, and what to do when someone is having an allergic reaction.

We Bare Bears” is a Cartoon Network show created by animator Daniel Chong in 2015. The show follows the adventures of three bear brothers, Grizzly, Panda, and Ice Bear, as they do their best to navigate life through modern San Francisco, interacting with both humans and animals. Panda has a severe peanut allergy. Throughout the show, Panda’s food allergy is both talked about and used as a part of the storyline. “We Bare Bears” handles the issue of food allergies in a serious, yet sincere and simple way that children can understand.

In the show, Panda is shown living life with a food allergy. He is able to enjoy food, both at home and in the city, with his brothers. As long as Panda takes the precaution of checking to make sure his food does not have peanuts, he’s good to go. Overall, he is able to enjoy life just like his brothers. But when Panda has been exposed to peanuts, the characters show what to do when someone is having an allergic reaction.

In the episode “Panda’s Date,” Panda has an allergic reaction because he unknowingly eats a cookie that contains peanuts at the local farmers market. Lucy, a girl working at the farmers market, is shown using an allergy pen on Panda. She carries an allergy pen because her brother, Clifford, also has a peanut allergy. In a later episode, “Lucy’s Brother,” Panda volunteers to watch Clifford. They both have an allergic reaction due to accidentally being exposed to peanut butter, and they use an allergy pen on each other. This shows how important it is for anyone who has food allergies, who is able to administer an allergy pen, to know how to use it on themselves, or others, in an emergency.

As someone with food allergies, I’m grateful to “We Bare Bears” for the addition of food allergies in their show. They are doing a great job in showing a positive example of living with food allergies. Since many children learn through television, especially cartoons, about socially interacting with others, I feel it is also important to expose children to a world that includes food allergies.

Thanks to “We Bare Bears,” we are seeing a great attempt to normalize food allergies for children. This can be used as a tool to educate children without food allergies, to give them an understanding of food allergies and compassion for those who have them, while also showing children with food allergies a positive character with the same challenges they face. Though living with a severe food allergy, or multiple food allergies, can be difficult, Panda does not let his allergy stop him from being happy and having adventures. I hope other cartoons and children’s shows will follow “We Bare Bears” example, and either include characters with food allergies or talk about food allergies. Congratulations, “We Bare Bears,” for tackling a difficult subject with such sincerity and creativity.

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Photo source: YouTube video