Ozella Haslam, a 15-year-old Girl Scout from Cross Plains, recently earned and received her Silver Award, the highest award a Girl Scout Cadette can achieve, during a ceremony at Nashville’s First Horizon Park.
A member of Girl Scout Troop 1539 in White House, Ozella spent the last year completing a community service project where she raised awareness on peanut allergies in the local community.
“Many food products can have peanuts or their oils in them and you don’t know it by looking at their packaging,” said Ozella. “These foods can be deadly to someone who is allergic and accidentally eats them. It is also important to know what foods contain peanuts and how to help someone who begins to get sick from it.”
In order to raise awareness, Ozella began by meeting with the directors of the Portland and Gallatin Farmer’s Markets. They helped her meet vendors and shop owners interested in her project. She then educated vendors on food allergies and how to label their products.
“My goal was to bring insight to how important it is to properly label peanut-free food that is safe for people with peanut allergies to eat,” said Ozella.
Next, she developed a graphic vendors could use to put on their products telling customers that the products are peanut safe. Ozella posted the graphic on GitHub.com, which stores and publishes software and images. She added a description and purpose of the graphic and made it available for anyone to use. She inspired local vendors, like TN Natureworks and Happy Bee Apiary, to use the label, which are currently on their products.
Ozella also authored and manages a public Facebook page, “Peanut Allergy Awareness,” that is continually updated with peanut-free products. It allows viewers on social media to find peanut-free products easier.
“This project has been hard work but it will have been worth it if I can help just one person,” said Ozella.