"I'm very grateful" – An interview with Tomke Lenzen, student at the Schweizerische Alpinen Mittelschule in Davos (SAMD)


Allergies, asthma, atopic dermatitis: For eleven years now, Tomke Lenzen has been a frequent guest at the Hochgebirgsklinik (HGK) in Davos. Up here, at around 1,600 metres above sea level, he feels better immediately. In August 2017, Tomke Lenzen moved permanently from the Siebengebirge near Bonn to Graubünden and became a high school student at the Schweizerische Alpinen Mittelschule in Davos (SAMD), the first school to be awarded the Swiss Allergy Label.


How did you become aware of SAMD?
Tomke Lenzen: Because I just feel better in Davos, it was obvious to me that I would like to move here at some point. During my last inpatient stay at the HKG in the summer of 2017, a nurse told my mother about the SAMDhealth programme. She was enthusiastic at once and then everything happened very quickly.


What do you think of this solution?
I'm very grateful that it happened this way. Before that I did not know which way to go to after junior high school. The disease has been with me for many years and I have often missed weeks or even months of school.


SAMD has been awarded the Swiss Allergy Label. Was this a selection criterion?
My mother looked into it and explored the subject. Of course, its proximity to the Hochgebirgsklinik Davos Wolfgang was another deciding factor. After all, I already know the medical and nursing team here, and I am in good hands in the event of an emergency. Currently, I am at the clinic about once a month for a 1-hour examination. The Hochgebirgsklinik Davos Wolfgang specialises in the treatment of respiratory, skin and food allergies in children, adolescents and adults.


You have now been in Davos for three months already. How have you found these early days?
In my old school, I was often bullied. Here in Davos, I was accepted well right from the start and quickly integrated. Everyone takes care of me. For example, a teacher chose nut allergies as a subject to discuss with us, in order to teach my classmates that even minor traces of nuts could be dangerous for me. Of course, I miss my family and my friends very much. But we often get in touch with each other. And in the meantime, Davos has become my second home.


You are allergic to a range of foods. How does the boarding school kitchen make allowances for this?
The chef, Mr Schmid, always prepares a separate menu for me, which is available to everyone. Since I cannot attend the home economics course because of my allergies, I am allowed to create new menus with the chef. I enjoy that very much. My mother still raves about my delicious Muesli mix.


The interior spaces also meet the requirements of the Service Allergie Suisse certification authority. What is special about them?
I enjoy the privilege of having a single room without carpets as well as a pollen screen on the window. For extra comfort, I have a fur bedside rug, so that I do not have to get out of bed onto a cold floor in the mornings.


Why would you recommend SAMD to other allergy sufferers?
There is probably no other school that is so ideal for allergy sufferers thanks to its altitude and where the management and teachers have a comparable level of expertise. Here, they look out for you and they know how to react in an emergency.


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