Introducing Celiac Chat

Celiac Chat Mentoring Program wpCeliac Chat is a cost-free, online mentorship program for kids and teens newly diagnosed with Celiac disease.

Under the mentorship of Dr. Jacqueline Jossen, MD, Department of Pediatrics at the Celiac Disease Centre at Columbia University, Celiac Chat is a virtual safe space for young Celiacs as they navigate everyday living.

Celiac Chat’s mission is to provide resources and offer support, share personal stories, including the challenges and fears faced, as well as the triumphs conquered. Learn more here.


Celiac Chat Business Card wpThe Program

“Our hybrid program is based in New York City, but mentors and mentees can be anywhere in the world – most of us connect virtually.”

​”Our goal is to help them through the many challenging stages, be it physical, mental, or social, that often accompany living with celiac disease. In a casual forum, following the mentees’ lead, we talk about anything that is on their mind:”

  • sharing favorite gluten free products
  • helping them advocate for themselves when ordering food at a restaurant
  • navigating a birthday party or holiday dinner where none of the food served is safe for them to eat
  • suggesting how to talk to friends about what happens to their body if/when they are exposed to gluten, in order to build understanding and empathy amongst their peers.

“Above all else, we help them understand that they are not alone, provide a glimpse of hope and humor, and serve as examples of how anyone can thrive and live a fulfilling life despite Celiac disease.”

Avery Leppo Celiac Chat 2

Avery Leppo, Founder Celiac Chat

About Celiac Chat Founder, Avery Leppo

“Diagnosed with Celiac disease over nine years ago, I have spent much of my childhood and teen years living gluten free. As a second grader, I began suffering from a variety of symptoms, ranging from severe headaches and abdominal pain to extreme fatigue and forceful vomiting – all causing me to miss school often, and retreat socially.”

“After many consultations in which doctors initially insisted I simply had anxiety – the proper blood work and an endoscopy confirmed I had Celiac. My parents immediately consulted with a dietician and transitioned our home to a safe, 100% gluten free space. Within weeks of altering my diet, I physically felt much better.”

“However, receiving this lifelong autoimmune diagnosis as a child was challenging and scary. I longed to have a mentor or confidante who I could relate to in those early years. This is exactly what inspired me to begin Celiac Chat. I am determined to be a resource and support newly diagnosed children and teens like I once was. Personally, I find these connections tremendously rewarding and truly inspirational and can only hope my mentees feel the same way.”

“I am currently a senior at the Dalton School in New York City and also spend a lot of time in Litchfield County, Connecticut. My passions include: music (I am a drummer and guitarist), playing softball, nature and wilderness adventures, traveling to new places, working with children, and rooting for the Red Sox!”