Sunday, October 16, 2016

Teal is the New Orange

In 2014, my family participated in the first ever Teal Pumpkin Project. Last year, there was an overwhelming response to the initiative, and this year, we are helping to make the project even bigger and better! We are working to reach families across the country and around the world with the Teal Pumpkin Project’s message of awareness, inclusion and community.

The Teal Pumpkin Project is a worldwide movement to create a safer, happier Halloween for all trick-or-treaters. 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.

Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE) suggests giving out inexpensive items such as glow sticks, bracelets, pencils, crayons, erasers, bubbles, stickers, bouncy balls, spider rings, etc.. 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.

We always enjoy painting a real pumpkin, but it is great to see that you can now find teal pumpkins (like the one Brennen has above) in the Halloween section at Michael's Craft Stores, as well as lots of non-food items that are perfect for little trick-or-treaters!

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.

To all of you who will be placing a teal pumpkin on your doorstep this year, please know that you are contributing to something that is very important to parents and children with food allergies and other eating restrictions. I am so very grateful for homes like yours that help allow our kids to just be kids and to enjoy the magic of Halloween!

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