October 18, 2016 12:40 pm
Updated: October 19, 2016 7:31 am

Teal pumpkin project helps provide a safe Halloween for kids with food allergies

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WINNIPEG — Halloween is a dream holiday for kids, but for parents of children with food allergies it can be a nightmare.

Chocolate, dairy, nuts and so many other treats can be deadly for kids who suffer from severe allergies.

It’s why one Halloween project is hoping to help keep children safe and put parents’ fears at ease.

The Teal Pumpkin Project is making an effort to bring awareness to food allergies, while also allowing children to participate in the joy of trick or treating.

Homes can also display a sign on their door to show they offer non-food options for trick-or-treaters.

FoodAllergy.org

All you have to do is place a teal pumpkin outside your door on Halloween to let children and parents know that you will be giving out treats other than candy for those with allergies.

“You can get erasers or stamps, stickers or tattoos,” said Kristy LeBaron, who has two children who both suffer from food allergies. “So if anyone says they want a non-food item I have a bowl full.”

LeBaron’s household is just one of many around the country taking part in the project.

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“Every year that my kids have gone to school there have been more and more allergies in the classroom,” she said. “People don’t always realize it’s life-threatening and don’t take it seriously enough.”

One in 13 Canadians, or 2.5 million people, are affected by a food allergy, according to new prevalence estimates from the Allergy, Genes and Environment Network (AllerGen).

The same 2015 research project found that 6.9 per cent of children under 18 years of age have at least one food allergy.

“It’s challenging,” said LeBaron. “We have to go through all of their candy after. We do have the rule not to eat any while you’re walking.”

The project was created in 2014 by FARE (Food Allergy Research & Education) in the United States. Last year, households from all 50 states and 14 countries participated.

The project has turned into a worldwide movement to create a safer, happier Halloween for all trick-or-treaters.

“My sister had a food allergy of peanuts when we were younger and I saw how it affected her on Halloween,” said Lisa Barnes.

Barnes is making cement pumpkins, spray painting them teal and selling them to those who want to be a part of the project.

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“It takes about 72 hours to make. My husband came up with the mold,” she said. “We fill it with concrete, let it sit and spray paint it with a couple of coats before we paint the faces.”

She hopes making it easier to pick up an already painted pumpkin will help get more people involved.

“There are so many different things that (kids) already feel left out of,” said Barnes. “So I think trick-or-treating every kid should feel a part of.”

Barnes will be selling her cement pumpkins at the Mulvey Flea Market on Oct 21-22.

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