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Musician uses songs, puppets to deliver message about food allergies to Amherst children

  • Entertainer and educator Kyle Dine of Canada operates superheroes Epi-Man, left, and Epi-Man Jr. during a presentation on food allergies at Fort River School kindergartners and first- and second-grade students Friday.<br/><br/>KEVIN GUTTING

    Entertainer and educator Kyle Dine of Canada operates superheroes Epi-Man, left, and Epi-Man Jr. during a presentation on food allergies at Fort River School kindergartners and first- and second-grade students Friday.

    KEVIN GUTTING Purchase photo reprints »

  • Fort River School kindergarteners, from left, Nisaya Moczo, Kanyinsola Okuwobi, Jonas Theis and Xavier Odom enjoy a presentation on food allergies by entertainer and educator Kyle Dine of Canada in the school cafeteria Friday.<br/><br/><br/>KEVIN GUTTING

    Fort River School kindergarteners, from left, Nisaya Moczo, Kanyinsola Okuwobi, Jonas Theis and Xavier Odom enjoy a presentation on food allergies by entertainer and educator Kyle Dine of Canada in the school cafeteria Friday.


    KEVIN GUTTING Purchase photo reprints »

  • During his presentation on food allergies at Fort River School in Amherst, entertainer and educator Kyle Dine, left, sings a song about what to say if someone offers to share or trade food during lunch. Helping him with the message are, from left, second-graders Alexis Orubo and Mason Wick-Lim and first-grader Zachary Tuohy.<br/><br/>KEVIN GUTTING

    During his presentation on food allergies at Fort River School in Amherst, entertainer and educator Kyle Dine, left, sings a song about what to say if someone offers to share or trade food during lunch. Helping him with the message are, from left, second-graders Alexis Orubo and Mason Wick-Lim and first-grader Zachary Tuohy.

    KEVIN GUTTING Purchase photo reprints »

  • Fort River School kindergartener Nisaya Moczo affixes a cut-out drawing representing swollen lips to a prop that entertainer and educator Kyle Dineof Canada, left, used during his presentation on food allergies for students in the school cafeteria Friday.<br/><br/><br/>KEVIN GUTTING

    Fort River School kindergartener Nisaya Moczo affixes a cut-out drawing representing swollen lips to a prop that entertainer and educator Kyle Dineof Canada, left, used during his presentation on food allergies for students in the school cafeteria Friday.


    KEVIN GUTTING Purchase photo reprints »

  • Entertainer and educator Kyle Dine of Canada operates superheroes Epi-Man, left, and Epi-Man Jr. during a presentation on food allergies at Fort River School kindergartners and first- and second-grade students Friday.<br/><br/>KEVIN GUTTING
  • Fort River School kindergarteners, from left, Nisaya Moczo, Kanyinsola Okuwobi, Jonas Theis and Xavier Odom enjoy a presentation on food allergies by entertainer and educator Kyle Dine of Canada in the school cafeteria Friday.<br/><br/><br/>KEVIN GUTTING
  • During his presentation on food allergies at Fort River School in Amherst, entertainer and educator Kyle Dine, left, sings a song about what to say if someone offers to share or trade food during lunch. Helping him with the message are, from left, second-graders Alexis Orubo and Mason Wick-Lim and first-grader Zachary Tuohy.<br/><br/>KEVIN GUTTING
  • Fort River School kindergartener Nisaya Moczo affixes a cut-out drawing representing swollen lips to a prop that entertainer and educator Kyle Dineof Canada, left, used during his presentation on food allergies for students in the school cafeteria Friday.<br/><br/><br/>KEVIN GUTTING

Last week he brought his lessons to Fort River Elementary School, where he entertained captive audiences with two shows, one for children in kindergarten through Grade 2 and the other for older students.

Guitar in hand, Dine, 30, opened with a song in which he rapidly listed all 26 of his own food allergies including peanuts, seafood, mustard and eggs. He followed that with two guessing games, during which he asked the students to identify the top eight foods that cause allergic reactions (peanuts, tree nuts, wheat, shellfish, eggs, milk, soy and fish) the common symptoms of a serious allergic reaction (rash, hives, wheezing and dizziness) and the proper way to use an Epi-Pen, which counteracts an attack.

“I’m allergic to shellfish, too,” shouted one student. “I have a friend with a soy allergy,” added another.

The puppet show featured superheroes — Epi-Man and Epi-Man Jr. — to sing food-allergy themed renditions of popular songs by Justin Beiber and Carly Rae Jepsen,which had students and teachers enthusiastically clapping along.

He also shared the story of a girl named Sabrina Shannon, who suffered a fatal allergic reaction at school due to her embarrassment over having to carry an Epi-Pen. He used the example to illustrate the effects that bullying and teasing people with food allergies can have.

The performances were part of Dine’s recent two-month “Road to No Reaction” tour of the northeastern United States, which began April 23.

Dine said that he has been playing music professionally for about six years, and that he made the decision to write songs about food allergies to help strengthen and support children who have them. In the past five years, he said, he has performed at 200 schools and has reached an audience of more than 75,000 students. He performs primarily at middle and elementary schools, as well as some food-allergy specific community and fundraising events.

“I truly believe that kids need support with food allergies. Growing up with them myself, I think it’s a tough thing to deal with as is, but when you have issues like food allergy bullying, teasing and the effects of these things where kids don’t want to carry life-saving medicine, that’s just unacceptable,” Dine said.

He has also recorded two albums, “You Must Be Nuts!” and “Food Allergies Rock,” which are available on iTunes and from his personal website.

“I definitely wasn’t planning on this when I was in my high school rock band,” Dine said. “It happened really naturally and organically at a children’s summer camp I worked at. A lot of the kids there had peanut allergies or nut allergies, and we just started writing these songs to vent about our allergies and all the stuff we were going through.

“It really evolved from there. I found this is just a fun way to get kids to gain some confidence with their allergies,” he said.

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