Girl, 10, gets food allergy awareness signs placed in city parks

A 10-year-old girl in Rockford has had one goal in mind over the last year.

Taryn Smith wanted to make her city’s parks safer for other children with food allergies by reminding park users to wash their hands before using the equipment. Now, after a lot of work, she finally got it done.

"It amazes me," Taryn’s mother Erin said. "I didn’t have that much ambition as a 10-year-old."

While most kids play on playgrounds, Taryn has been busy changing them.

"Her first step was looking up the phone number to the city," Erin said.

"I was kind of taken aback when she called," Rockford Parks Director Darcy Desens told FOX 9.

After visiting a park in the north Twin Cities metro and seeing a food allergy awareness sign, Taryn wondered why the parks in her hometown of Rockford didn’t have the signage too.

"Did you know one in 13 children have food allergies?" Taryn read from a sign.

And without a good answer as to why Rockford didn’t have the signs, she set out on making them herself. The issue is close to the fifth grader’s heart because she has two cousins with food allergies, and she says they’ve been hospitalized many times because of it.

So, she put together a presentation advocating for new signage in Rockford, and brought it to the town’s park and recreation meeting.

"I was really nervous and sweaty," Taryn said.

"After listening to her presentation, it’s something we never thought of before," Desens said. "We were all very impressed - myself and the other park board members and the city administrator."

Now signs will go up in all five city parks next week, a change signed off on by 10-year-old Taryn.