Last year on The PediaBlog, we learned about a special program that makes Halloween a more inclusive and fun holiday for a lot of children. Pediatric Alliance allergists Sergei Belenky and Deborah Gentile explained it:
Born out of one mom’s desire to help ensure that children with food allergies would not feel left out on Halloween, the Teal Pumpkin Project®, now in its fourth year as a national awareness campaign led by Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE), has spread far and wide — reaching millions across the U.S. and beyond — in an effort to help create a happier, safer Halloween for all.
For millions of children with food allergies and their parents, the Halloween trick-or-treating tradition can sometimes be fraught with anxiety because many candies that are handed out contain major food allergens such as milk, peanuts, tree nuts and wheat. FARE’s Teal Pumpkin Project promotes safety and inclusion for all trick-or-treaters by encouraging people to provide non-food treats on Halloween. A pumpkin painted teal, the color for food allergy awareness, signals that children will find a fun, non-food treat that anyone can enjoy.
By displaying a teal pumpkin at your doorstep, you are showing children who may have health conditions that prevent their enjoyment of candy (certain food or nut allergies and diabetes are two examples) and their parents that there are other safe, non-food treat options that keep the spirit of Halloween alive for everyone. “Because,” asks pediatrician Dr. Kristen Stuppy, “what child likes to be left out of the fun of Trick or Treating?”
When a child has severe food allergies, diabetes, or another condition that limits the types of foods he or she can eat, they are often left out of class parties and trick or treating.
There are many non-food treats that kids would love ~ stickers, pencils, glow sticks, bubbles, plastic jewelry, vampire teeth, pencil toppers, hair pieces, magic trick cards, and many more. Be sure you have some that are safe for toddlers.
Most parents are usually hypervigilant about what goes into the mouth of their food-allergic child. They keep their eyes peeled, they read labels, and heeding the AAP’s advice, they don’t keep other caretakers in the dark, especially on Halloween:
- Inform teachers and other adults with your child about the food allergy and how to react to an emergency.
- Don’t let your child trick-or-treat alone, and make sure they have an epinephrine auto-injector with them. Anyone with a cell phone should fully charge it before heading out.
- Explain symptoms of anaphylaxis, a severe allergic reaction, such as shortness of breath, difficulty swallowing, hoarseness, swelling of lips or tongue and dizziness.
- Even if epinephrine is administered right away and anaphylaxis symptoms seem to stop, the child treated always should be taken to the emergency room.
For more information about the Teal Pumpkin Project, including signs and flyers that can be displayed at your house, visit www.tealpumpkinproject.org.