Guest Post – Heidi Hemling
Summer has suddenly turned to fall and that means children are getting anxious for the coming Halloween festivities. I see many families decorating their homes with creative haunted houses, spooky lights, and pumpkins of all shapes and sizes. They fill our neighborhood with color and excitement. However, if you take a closer look the next time you are strolling through the neighborhood you will notice that some families are electing to decorate their doorsteps with teal pumpkins.
Why teal, you ask? Because teal is the color for food allergy awareness and trick-or-treat events present significant risks to those children who have been diagnosed with food allergies. The homes decorated with these brightly colored pumpkins indicate participation and support for The Teal Pumpkin Project. This movement was started in 2014 by a Tennessee mom and has now been embraced by Food Allergy Research and Education (FARE).
According to FARE, “1 in 13 children is affected by food allergies and the strongest reactions are usually triggered by milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, soy, wheat or shellfish” Even more startling, FARE estimates that approximately “every three minutes, a food allergy reaction sends someone to the emergency room.”
It’s easy to join the movement and it does not mean you cannot also hand out candy or other food treats if you enjoy doing so. Participating simply means you are offering a non-food treat option that allows for children with life-threatening food allergies to participate in the fun and tradition of trick-or-treating. If you and your families or children would like to become more involved, there are many ways to join the Teal Pumpkin Project:
- Attend TETNA trick-or-treat registration and grab your very own Teal Pumpkin Project flyer to indicate you have non-food treats available
- Purchase some inexpensive toys such as glow sticks, bubbles, or pencils to hand out as non-food items
- Paint a pumpkin a brilliant shade of teal to place in front of your home
- Visit the Teal Pumpkin Project’s downloads page for access to free materials such as yard signs and stickers to show your support
- Add your street to the Teal Pumpkin Project Map to let others in the neighborhood know that you are offering non-food treats
- Share tweets, Instagram posts and Facebook posts with the hashtag #TealPumpkinProject to help spread the word
Let’s come together as a neighborhood to make sure all children are included and can have a happy, healthy, and safe trick-or-treat this year!