From the moment Cora learned she was pregnant, she began to daydream about her child—trips to the park, Saturday morning cuddles, the magic of holidays—she was so excited for all of it.
On a chilly October morning, Cora gave birth to her healthy, beautiful little girl. Her daydream was now her most perfect reality. But like all parents, Cora worried. She worried about developmental milestones, finding the right school district and making sure her daughter ate enough vegetables.
But unlike most parents, Cora has an additional worry—her daughter is allergic to nuts.
An aspect of life that so many of us take completely for granted is constantly on Cora's mind. She has to call ahead of every birthday party to see if they are planning on serving anything with nuts. She has to repeatedly remind her child's daycare that even if “peanuts" isn't in the ingredient list, the snack bar may have come in contact with peanut dust in the factory.
And instead of looking forward to Halloween with joy and eagerness, she has to brace herself for the nervousness it inevitably causes—how is her daughter going to safely Trick-or-Treat, and enjoy the holiday?
One out of every 13 children has a food allergy. The most common allergens include nuts, eggs, dairy, soy, wheat and seafood, though there are many other possibilities as well.
Holidays and celebrations like Halloween are so difficult for these children and families.
Teal Pumpkin Project to the rescue.
The Teal Pumpkin Project was created in 2014 in response to the growing number of children with allergies. It promotes awareness and safety by encouraging everyone to offer non-food treats for trick-or-treaters.
Not only does this support children with allergies, it also makes sure that children with other conditions—diabetes, feeding tubes, celiac disease and more—to participate in Halloween safely, and free from judgment.
And here's the good news—it's so easy to join in.
- Fill a separate bowl (so it doesn't touch the candy) with non-food treats—stickers, bubbles, pencils, glow sticks are a few ideas.
- Put a teal colored pumpkin in front of your home to let trick-or-treaters know you offer food-free treats (I bought a fake pumpkin at my local craft store, and painted it teal. I store it with the Halloween decorations, and pull it out year after year!)
- If you can't make a teal pumpkin, you can print out this free sign and hang it on your door.
- Encourage your neighbors and friends to join the movement.
Remember, we're all in this together.
Participating in the the Teal Pumpkin Project does more than allow kids to have a fun, safe and memorable Halloween. It shows them that they matter. It shows their parents that they are not alone.
For more information on how to support the Teal Pumpkin Project and how to participate safely, please visit their website.