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The Teal Pumpkin Project
Emma Amoscato is a mum of two food allergic children and writes about their lives on her blog Free From Farmhouse. She has a book coming out next year 'Living With Allergies: Practical Tips For All The Family' and is also co-founder of the website Allergy Travels.
“No” I shout, grabbing the Halloween treat out my stunned son's hands. “You can't eat that.”To any onlookers I probably look like an overprotective mum, ruining my child's fun. To an allergy parent, I could have just saved his life.
Living with life threatening allergies is an invisible constraint that influences everything you do. It is a constant juggle between letting your children be included in everyday activities, and keeping them safe. This is no more obvious than during holidays and celebrations, which almost always centre around food.
My two young children have multiple allergies including peanuts, tree nuts, milk, egg and sesame and both carry adrenaline injectors. Once you have watched your child have an anaphylactic reaction, it's hard to see food in the same way again. What it is a harmless treat to other people, is a potential poison for us.
We are well practised in taking alternative food, making homemade treats and trying to keep all experiences as normal as possible. We never avoid activities, parties, or events but as a parent your mind is constantly in overdrive, scanning the room for dangers and monitoring everything that goes near their mouths.
Sometimes it's nice not to worry so much. It's nice for them to just be able to join in the fun along with everyone else.
And there's a really easy way you can help.
Have you put your pumpkin out yet? Is there room for two?
The Teal Pumpkin Project is a concept that has come over from America and involves leaving a teal coloured pumpkin outside your door, alongside your regular one, to show you have non-food treats available as well.
Not only does it make trick or treating fully inclusive for food allergy children, it also benefits many others too. Lots of children have dietary restrictions, whether through diabetes or coeliac disease, and it also just provides more healthy choices to the usual sugar laden sweet treats.
Some of the non-food items we offer include:
• Glow sticks
• Bouncy balls
• Mini colouring books
• Pencil toppers
We have taken part for the last three years now and it is great to see more and more people getting involved. There have been some negative attitudes towards the idea, claiming people with food allergies are trying to 'ruin Halloween' but the great thing about this idea is it's not making anyone else miss out. Those who can have the regular food treats can happily go ahead; it simply offers a safe alternative for everyone.
So when you put out your pumpkin this year, brighten up your doorstep with a teal one too and help keep my two little terrors safe and included this Halloween.
Will you be joining in with the Teal Pumpkin Project this year? Let us know your thoughts below!