Trick-or-Treating for All!
When you think of Halloween, what comes to mind? Scary movies, falling leaves, spooky decorations, and, of course, trick-or-treating.
Though walking door to door—or, in some places, from car trunk to car trunk—on the hunt for candy has been a traditional pastime for decades, trick-or-treating has gotten plenty of criticism over the years due largely to safety concerns (you can hear the helicopter parents buzzing). But letting the kids walk around to show off their costumes and pick up some treats is fun for everyone, right?
Sadly, for kids with food allergies, walking around the neighborhood to go trick-or-treating isn’t all fun and games, and at the end of the night, it’s not unusual for them to have to give a large amount (if not all) of their candy and goodies away. Where’s the fun in that?
Now, the Teal Pumpkin Project is here to help.
Food Allergies by the Numbers
Like many holidays, Halloween is synonymous with candy and sweets. For millions of children in the United States, however, this tradition just represents another chance for exclusion and even risk.
According to Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE), as many as 15 million Americans have food allergies, including 1 in 13 children under the age of 18.
Food allergies in the US have been on the rise: There was a 50% growth from 1997 to 2011, and nobody’s quite sure why. Teens and young adults have the highest risk of fatal allergic reactions, largely due to the onset of potentially fatal anaphylaxis. Every 3 minutes, someone in the United States has to go to the emergency room because of a food allergy.
For those of us without one, we may never truly know just how lucky we are, or how inconvenient and frightening a food allergy can be.
The Teal Pumpkin Project
In 2014, FARE started the Teal Pumpkin Project to raise awareness around Halloween for kids suffering from food allergies. Not only are these beautiful accessories to display outside of your home, but teal is the color of food allergy awareness.
The idea was inspired by the Food Allergy Community of East Tennessee (FACET) as a concept developed by local families.
“The Teal Pumpkin Project promotes safety, inclusion and respect for all those managing food allergies,” explained FARE Director of Communications Nancy Gregory.
Imagine being a child with food allergies, or the parent of a child with food allergies, who has to sit and watch while all your friends and siblings galavant on Halloween collecting bucketfuls of candy. Now, the Teal Pumpkin Project is making trick-or-treating fun for all.
Here’s how it works:
Making the Pledge
Participating is easy. Simply by placing a teal pumpkin outside of your house, you signify to trick-or-treaters and parents alike that you are a household that will supply non-food items that will make Halloween safe and fun for all. Some ideas include stickers, glow sticks, or other small toys that don’t pose the threat of a food allergy. This keeps Halloween inclusive and enjoyable, even for the children who can’t participate in the traditional way.
The pledge reads:
“This Halloween, I pledge to show, some extra kindness to the kids I know. I’ll get some non-food treats at the store, like glow sticks, bracelets, stickers and more! I will put my teal pumpkin out on proud display, on my porch, in a window, or on a bale of hay. My teal pumpkin means I support children with food allergies, because all kids deserve to have a safe, happy Halloween.”
Here’s how big of a sensation the Teal Pumpkin Project has become…
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Starting as a small project in 2014, families now proudly display their teal pumpkins across the nation and world. This interactive map shows where there are homes and neighborhoods participating, and it also lets you put your home on the map in order to let families with food allergies in your area know that it’s safe to trick-or-treat by you!
Learn more about the Teal Pumpkin Project community on their Facebook page to network and get inspired with how to make Halloween at your house safe and fun for all kids.
We love this idea. As Halloween and other childhood traditions come under fire for safety concerns, it’s amazing to see such passionate activism that makes the holiday more inclusive instead of trying to put a stop to it completely. Halloween is a great time of year for so many kids, and now the #1in13 can feel free to join their friends while trick-or-treating, and their parents won’t have to worry about their fear of missing out or any life-threatening allergic reactions.
What are you waiting for? SHARE this article and join the Teal Pumpkin Project!