A teal pumpkin can save a life
Lets children with allergies know homes share safe treats for Halloween
On Halloween, parents may worry the eye holes in their child’s mask are too small or their costume cannot be seen in the dark.
But a small few worry if their child will come in contact with an allergen that could prove fatal.
Over the past decade, peanut, egg, milk and many other products have products of concern when it comes to allergies and intolerances. Some products have become an issue in schools and other public places. Parents and teachers of children with these allergies often carry an EpiPen in case they have a severe reaction.
Moms like Annette Oliver, whose children attend Cabot Academy in Western Bay, experience these types of issues on a regular basis. But she especially worries her daughter Eve will come in contact with her allergens around Halloween.
Eve is allergic to peanuts and raw eggs. Her sister Sarah doesn’t have any allergies, but still has to be careful not to come in contact with them, for her sister’s sake.
“Halloween is extremely stressful for me,” Oliver told The Compass. “There are some family and friends that will have a special bag done up for Eve and Sarah, but (many others) don’t care.”
Although Eve is one of only two children in her school with severe allergies, some schools have more than that in a single class.
Oliver is one of dozens of parents in the Trinity-Conception-Placentia region that has to be mindful of her child’s allergies.
But this year, Oliver and several others from the area are promoting teal pumpkins for Halloween.
Paint them teal
The international colour that symbolises food allergy awareness is teal – a bluish-green colour.
The Food Allergy Research and Education (FARE) organization launched the Teal Pumpkin Project. Those that place a teal-painted pumpkin on their porch or a sign in their window during trickor-treating inform children with allergies that they carry safe alternatives, such as crayons, bouncy balls, stickers or other trinkets and treasures.
Although it is not widely known in Newfoundland, many households across North America are painting pumpkins to ensure children with all health issues, including allergies and diabetes, don’t feel left out during Halloween.
Oliver is already spreading the word in her neighbourhood and surrounding communities about the teal pumpkins, and some municipalities are hearing about the option as well.
Mayors weigh in
The mayors of two of the largest municipalities in the region, Bay Roberts and Placentia, spoke with The Compass about the Teal Pumpkin Project. Philip Wood and Wayne Power Jr. had just learned about the practice, and believe it could be useful.
Wood, the leader of the most populated town in the region, is a former educator and school administrator. Over his years teaching, he recognized a change.
“After just finishing a 30-year career, I went from a zero thought process (on severe allergies) to seeing a fair number of products cause reactions,” Wood explained.
But with more allergies comes more health-conscious decisions for both schools and the community. Wood agrees it’s important for everyone to recognize those affected, especially around Halloween.
“From a town perspective, from the best of my knowledge, we don’t do anything right now,” Wood said. “This is the first time I’ve heard about this particular program. It’d be something for us to consider.”
Power said around Placentia they have numerous households that already offer other items, such as small toys, instead of candy and chocolate, but the project is something he believes could be beneficial anywhere.
“It sounds like a good way to promote inclusion and make sure everybody can have a safe Hal- loween,” he said. “This definitely puts a new perspective on things.”
Wood suggested the peanut allergy is what comes to mind for most people, and with some areas of Bay Roberts experiencing over 100 children per household, other allergies should be considered.
Safety at school
Many schools have implemented policies where peanut products, and other items children have severe reactions to, are prohibited from being brought into school.
At Cabot Academy, students are not allowed to bring in treats for Halloween or other special occasions either. Carbonear Academy limits what can be brought in — for example, no peanut products.
The Newfoundland and Labrador Eastern School District has guidelines for each school to follow, but it’s the school’s decision what type of celebrations they have and what treats they allow students to bring in.
“There are protocols in place for schools to follow to ensure the safety of students and this basically would be no different in the case of Halloween celebrations – schools still have to be cognizant of allergies and ensure student safety,” said the school board’s director of communication, Ken Morrissey.
Teachers and school administration also send out lists each year to let parents and students know what items are prohibited. Some send out an additional list for special occasions as a reminder to those bringing in treats to class.
Some parents are more vocal than others, including Oliver, whose daughter could die from coming in contact with peanuts.
“That’s what I try and stand up for — to ensure I don’t lose a child,” she explained.
For more information on what food limitations your child has for school, you can contact the school directly — a directory can be found at nlesd.ca.
To learn more about the Teal Pumpkin Project or to print off a sign for your window, visit www.foodallergy.org/teal-pumpkin-project.
The Teal Pumpkin Project enables parents with children that have allergies to know which homes have non-food alternatives, allowing their children to safely trick-ortreat.