This year and for the first time in his 12 years, Will will trick-or-treat like a "normal" kid. He won't have to gently sift through buckets of candy looking for a piece he can safely eat, or say "no thank you" and walk away with nothing at all if the candy offered contains or might contain peanuts. I won't have to read the labels on or look up the ingredients in every piece of candy he brings home. He can sample anything and everything, without fear. (Well, maybe not anything and everything - he did just get braces, and they came with a whole new set of sticky food restrictions...)
This wasn't always the case for Will and our family. As my regular readers know, Will has a peanut allergy but thanks to a new treatment protocol, now can and does eat peanuts. Sadly, not all kids with peanut allergies are so lucky, which is why, after participating for the first time in 2014 when it officially hit front porches nationwide, we continue to participate in the Teal Pumpkin Project.
For those who haven't yet heard of this Food Allergy Research and Education (FARE) project, here's the background information and a quick summary. At least one in 13 children (perhaps as many as one in 11 children) have a food allergy, and many more suffer from Celiac Disease, eat a restricted or special diet, or receive their nutrients via tube feeding. For these children - those who can't consume any of the items received while trick-or-treating or who can't trick-or-treat at all - Halloween doesn't have the same sparkle. The Teal Pumpkin Project began as a local awareness activity in Eastern Tennessee and grew into a nationwide campaign to "raise awareness about food allergies and promote the inclusion of all trick-or-treaters" and aims to ensure every child can experience a safe, happy holiday.
Participating in the Teal Pumpkin Project is easy.
- Pick out a pumpkin, paint it teal, and place it on your front porch on Halloween.
- Provide non-food treats - pencils, erasers, stickers, bubbles, and plastic vampire teeth have been popular at our house - for trick-or-treaters.
Later this week and just like we've done for the last four years, Hallie and I will buy a pumpkin at the local pumpkin patch and she'll spend the better part of an hour carefully covering every last inch of orange with teal paint. No, painting a pumpkin teal won't cure Will or anyone else of their peanut allergy. But doing so is a step toward increasing awareness and making the world a safer place for people with life-threatening food allergies...and Hallie loves having a part in this effort on behalf of her brother.
Would you like to win a Teal Pumpkin Project paint kit? Enter by commenting here or by commenting on or liking this post on Facebook. Will will randomly choose a winner on Friday, October 19th at 5pm and we'll mail or deliver your paint kit on Saturday, October 20th!
Let's paint the town teal!
I have no affiliation with nor have I received any payment - financial or in-kind - from the Teal Pumpkin Project in exchange for this post. I just happen to be a big supporter of their work!