The weather is beginning to turn crisp and the leaves are showing signs of their change to colors of amber, orange and yellows. High school football teams battle on Friday nights with their breath seen in clouds of vapor from the sharp contrast of temperatures. It's officially Autumn, and kids are starting to get giddy over the thoughts of Halloween, costumes and trick-or-treating. Parents of children with allergies, though, are beginning to think of all the houses that will be handing out treats laden with dairy, wheat, gluten, soy, egg and nuts, all of which are included in the most common allergens, though there are numerous more. These allergens could result in something seemingly simple to someone that does not understand allergens as an upset tummy or it could result in a an ambulance to the hospital and prayers that a child makes it through the night.
Halloween and trick-or-treating are experiences that every child should get to participate in without feelings of being left out or forgotten or of being an inconvenience due to their medical requirements. Now it's not uncommon to see the teal pumpkin buckets carried by children on their tour of their neighborhood, loading up on Halloween goodies. But if you are not prepared and know what the Teal Pumpkins mean, you could be leaving a child without a treat, or worse yet, with one that could potentially endanger their lives.
According to foodallergy.org, The Teal Pumpkin Project makes trick-or-treating "safer and more inclusive," as one in 13 children live with some sort of allergy, intolerance or other conditions such as Autism. That breaks down to two kids in every classroom! When you buy a teal pumpkin and place it on your doorstep, this silently signals to allergy parents and kids that they can get a safe, non-food treat. It's discreet, easily conveyed and makes Halloween accessible to so many others.
Inspired by a local activity in Tennessee, The Teal Pumpkin Project now reaches all around the world, bringing awareness, inclusion and a greater sense of community.
How can I participate I help the kids in my neighborhood?
Providing safe treats to allergen families is much easier than you think, and you don't even have to buy a teal pumpkin to participate!
- Simply keep allergen friendly, non-food items in separate containers from other treats.
- Don't use the same hand for both containers!
- Paint a real or fake pumpkin teal if you would rather not buy a teal pumpkin from the store.
- Post a sign on your door - Foodallergy.org provides a free one that you can print out HERE
- Ensure that non-food treats are not a choking hazard.
- Double check that Play-Doh and other types items also don't have allergens, such as latex.
Having trouble thinking of allergy friendly items?
Trying to think of allergy friendly treats can be hard when you don't have experience with allergies and are bombarded with bags of candy in every store. Below is a list of items that would work and can be found at local stores or from Amazon.
|Trading Cards||Mini Play-Doh||Glow Sticks|
|Slime||Mini Stuffed Animals||Vampire Teeth (plastic or wax)|
|Crayons||Pencils & Erasers||Themed|
|Mini Flashlights||Mini Stamps||Rubber Ducks|
|Hacky Sacks||Mini Bottles of Water||Slap Bracelets|
|Silly Straws||Stress Balls||Bounce Balls|
|Mini Puppets||Stretchy Characters|
|Key Chains||Friendship Bracelets||Yo-Yos|
Providing safe and fun treats for Halloween is a priority for us all. I hope the tips above and the ideas of inclusive treats will help you have a more inclusive Halloween.
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