By Tracy Amin
Well folks, it’s that time of year again! The leaves are starting to change, the temperatures are dropping a bit, the humidity is more forgiving, football is on our minds and you can almost smell the s’mores being made in the fire pits. Yes, my friends, it is officially FALL!!! Arguably my favorite time of the year, and Halloween kicks it all off. Ghouls, goblins, ghosts and witches. Fairies, super heroes, princesses and pirates. No matter what your costume, it’s a fun-filled night. But sometimes it’s not so fun for all children.
According to FARE, 1 in every 13 children have a food allergy. And if you think about the fact that most reactions are due to allergens such as milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts and wheat, that makes it difficult for children with food allergies, or their parents, to truly enjoy trick-or-treating. They can’t actually eat most of what they get! This is where the Teal Pumpkin Project™ comes in to play.
The Teal Pumpkin Project™ was brought to my attention last year, its first year, by a friend of mine in Louisville, KY. She has a daughter with a gluten intolerance, and as I read about what FARE was trying to do with this idea, I realized that my own kids, neither of whom has allergies, probably didn’t know much about what it meant to have one.
So I decided to turn this great idea into a lesson in empathy, really digging deeper into what an allergy looks like, who can have an allergy and what causes allergies.
It was a big success and involving the kids in the conversation and painting process made it a more real conversation with a lasting impact.
This year we are in Seattle, and as we started talking about carving and decorating pumpkins in our new city, my daughter asked if we were going to be painting a teal pumpkin again?! Excited that she remembered painting the pumpkin, I asked if she remembered why we painted it teal, and as I sat there listening to her explain to me that some children have food allergies, making it impossible for them to eat many candies, and how we should help support those kids, I must say that I was one proud mama!
We then talked about what we could do as a family to support FARE and the Teal Pumpkin Project this year. She made a list of all of our ideas and then we got to work, starting with our first annual Teal Pumpkin Party!
We invited some neighbors over to paint pumpkins and talk about why we were doing it. My daughter (6) mixed the paint this year, my son (3) passed out paint brushes and we all had a blast! We were working and learning with other non-allergy kids, as well as a child with a fish allergy and his dad who has a dairy allergy.
The kids were all able to enjoy the party while at the same time learning to be aware of what an allergy is and how they, as small children, can make a big difference in a big world. Each child took home a teal pumpkin and just like that, they became part of a new community: the Teal Pumpkin Project community :)
We have only been here for a few months and we can’t wait until next year to help spread the word and get even more people involved in this amazing movement sweeping the world!
Tracy Amin lives in Seattle and blogs at Busy and the Beans.
Learn more and get involved at tealpumpkinproject.org. And remember to use #tealpumpkinproject when you are sharing your photos!