Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The Teal Pumpkin Project

While helping a student this week on a current event assignment, I learned something new that is worth sharing. Have you heard of the Teal Pumpkin Project (TPP)?  Because I don't have food allergies or kids with them, it never occurred to me that for some kids (4-5%) trick-or-treating is a bummer. Allergies to peanuts, for example, can be life or death issues. Something as simple as a single candy bar containing peanuts being in the same bowl or bag with candy without peanuts can actually put a kid into anaphylaxis shock, even if they haven't actually eaten it! I can only imagine the stress of that for parents of kids with allergies, let alone the children themselves! More and more often, too, are allergies to wheat, which is found in a striking number of foods, so kids with that allergy can't eat candy containing it. While certainly not tragic, they can't enjoy the tradition of Halloween trick-or-treating the way their friends can.

The Teal Pumpkin Project's aim is to make trick-or-treating fun for kids with food allergies. (Teal is the color of food allergy awareness.)  It's a new idea, so you may not see many teal pumpkins this year, but when you do, it means that the family in that house is handing out non-food items. The article my student read suggested handing out glow sticks, pencils, stickers, erasers, etc. I think this is a great idea, and I plan to pick up some glow sticks from the $1 store to hand out this year, even though I also have candy. Obviously, not all kids would appreciate non-candy items, but having a choice would mean a lot to kids with allergies.

If you're interested but don't want to paint a pumpkin, you can also post this sign:

Also, be careful not to handle peanut-containing candy bars and the non-candy items with the same hands. I know it sounds crazy, but it really can be dangerous. I suppose kids for whom trick-or-treating is that dangerous are likely to just stay home, but with any luck, this thoughtful idea will spread, and kids with food allergies will have fun trick-or-treating, too.

For more information, visit Food Allergy Research and Education's Teal Pumpkin Project page.

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