While many are struggling to find the positive from months of isolating, Mariken O’Donnell found her silver lining right at the start. The Mum of two says that lockdown has had unexpected benefits for her family. “My son has severe allergies,” she says. “He was really sick at the beginning of the year and then COVID hit and he’s been really healthy!”
On top of juggling family priorities, her own business and volunteering on the NZBWN board, Mariken has become a keen advocate for allergy awareness in recent years. She volunteers with UK-based charities, Anaphylaxis Campaign and Allergy UK. “My objective in being a mum and doing all this is to raise awareness that it really is life-threatening,” says Mariken.
“People tend to think that if you’ve got anti-histamines or even an epi-pen that it’ll just be fine, but that’s just not true,” she says. “If someone says “I’ve got a nut allergy” then we need to go “This is serious. Let me protect you”.”
Mariken has also started a social media page, Nutfree Adventures, to show the community that allergies don’t have to stop you from living a life that you love. “As long as you’re vigilant and prepared, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t lead a full, adventurous life.”