Tuesday, October 28, 2014

The Teal Pumpkin Project

We are ready for Halloween over here! We've visited the pumpkin patch at Lester's Farm. We've made our way through the corn maze, and we've selected the biggest, roundest pumpkin to call our own.

I love Halloween - the frenzy of festivities, planning parties, dressing up.. I'm all over it!  Brennen has had some awesome costumes over the years. Let's see if I can get all nine: a zebra, a frog prince, an astronaut, a ninja, a pirate, a silly monster, a mummy, a firefighter, and Superman!

We celebrate this holiday (as we do most holidays), a little differently than most families. I don't take Brennen trick-or-treating around our neighbourhood. We will dress up and visit some family and a few close friends, but the truth is that most houses are not accessible, having more than a few steps to the front door. It is just not possible for Brennen to get to the doors to knock for treats. Then, of course, is the fact that even if he got the treats, he wouldn't be able to enjoy them.

Kids with special needs can feel very left out on the holidays.

As a parent of a child with a disability, I have an underlying pain in my heart seeing other children Brennen's age so easily having fun. Events like these have a way of forcing you to see how different your own child is in comparison to everyone else, and how hard they have to fight to be included.

This year, we are trying something new! We have a beautifully painted teal pumpkin sitting on our front step! Not because it's a cool Pinterest fad - though if I had to choose a favourite colour, it would probably be this one. We are participating in the Teal Pumpkin Project!

Just this year, FARE (Food Allergies Research and Education) launched the Teal Pumpkin Project in hopes of starting a new Halloween tradition, and I absolutely love the idea!

"This Halloween, FARE is encouraging communities to start a new tradition that will help make this holiday season less scary for children with food allergies: the Teal Pumpkin Project. This campaign encourages people to raise awareness of food allergies by providing non-food treats for trick-or-treaters and painting a pumpkin teal - the color of food allergy awareness - to place in front of their house along with a free printable sign from FARE to indicate they have non-food treats available."

Though the project was initially intended to benefit those with food allergies, I feel that it also applies to individuals and children dealing with intolerances, sensitivities and disorders that limit what they can consume. Children who may be tube-fed and do not eat by mouth, or who (like Brennen) do eat by mouth but don't chew well. Brennen does not eat candy or chips or any of the other common Halloween treats. He wouldn't know what to do with a lollipop and would probably choke on candy corn.

The organization suggests giving out inexpensive items such as glow sticks, bracelets, pencils, crayons, erasers, bubbles, stickers, bouncy balls, spider rings, etc.. all of which can be found in a Halloween theme at dollar stores. Actually, I found a whole bunch of cool things at Target! (I love Target!)

The goal is not to eliminate candy. I will have a selection of the usual Halloween treats available for children who want them (and some for myself!). The aim is to provide an option for non-food treats to ensure that ALL kids have a happy Halloween.

1 in 13 children are diagnosed with a food allergy. Chances are, in your child's classroom or in your neighbourhood there is more than one family dealing with food allergies or other special dietary restrictions. Please consider participating in the Teal Pumpkin Project! It is a wonderful opportunity to teach children about the importance of inclusion, disability awareness, and food safety. It is not a matter of changing the tradition, it is a matter of making activities like Halloween more inclusive for all children. 

Now, if we could do something about those stairs..

Have a Safe and Happy Halloween! 



  1. As someone with a food allergy I think this idea is great! I currently live in a row house downtown and don't get any trick or treaters on my busy street but as soon as I move into a more kid friendly neighbourhood I will definitely be partaking in this. Thanks for sharing!