KAWARTHA LAKES- –With Halloween on the horizon, Five Counties Children’s Centre is sharing its top tips to make trick-or-treating more accessible for all children this year.
“Ask any child, and he or she will tell you Halloween ranks right up there as one of the best days of the year,” says Scott Pepin, CEO of Five Counties Children’s Centre. “We’re encouraging people to consider children of all ages and abilities this Halloween. A few simple tweaks to your Halloween plans can literally open doors to more trick-or-treaters.”
Five Counties is echoing the message of Treat Accessibly, a grassroots movement formed in 2017. Treat Accessibly promotes ‘Happy Halloween…everyBODY,’ with the aim of make trick-or-treating more inclusive. According to the Treat Accessibly organization, more than 400,000 children in Canada identify as having one or more disabilities, which can prevent them from enjoying trick-or-treating with their siblings and other children.
“In our everyday work at Five Counties, we support children and youth with physical, developmental and communications needs with the aim of enriching their independence and quality of life every day,” Pepin adds. “Halloween is one of those days or festivities that children of every ability should have the chance to experience and enjoy. We’re calling on our communities to help make that happen!”
To break down barriers to Halloween, you’re encouraged to consider the following:
- Set up a trick-or-treating station that is accessible and barrier-free for every child to enjoy. For homes with stairs, consider setting up an accessible treat station on the front lawn, driveway, or garage. If all else fails, be creative and use your vehicle’s trunk to hand out candy.
- Clear the path for trick-or-treaters. Remove potential obstacles and ensure the way to your treat station is wide open and well lit, especially for trick-or-treaters with mobility challenges. Consider parking on the street or in the garage to create even more space.
- Decorate for Halloween with care. While scary and spooky decorations are appealing, they can be frightening for some trick-or-treaters. Bright flashing lights and loud or frightening noises can cause problems for children with sensory processing issues, autism or epilepsy. Be thoughtful and tactful in how you decorate so more children can take part in trick-or-treating.
- Communication counts. Some children may say ‘trick or treat’ differently. Some may use sign language, assistive technology, speak slowly or be non-verbal. Be respectful whatever the circumstances. A smile and wave can say so much!
- Seeing blue? That’s OK. Blue pumpkins have been informally adopted by some families as a way to indicate children have unique ways of behaving and communicating. If you see a trick-or-treater carrying a blue pumpkin, be understanding and adjust your interactions as needed
- Use some ‘show and tell’ to hand out treats. If you encounter children with visual or hearing problems, describe or hold up the treat before placing it in the bag so they are aware of what they are receiving.
- A sign of the times. If you want to make an even stronger statement, put up a sign on your front lawn indicating you are an accessible/inclusive trick-or-treating stop.