Trick-or-treating is something that most Calgarians take for granted, but for kids who have mobility, social, or intellectual disabilities, Halloween is all too often something they can’t participate in.
Returning for a second year in Calgary is a pair of initiatives that aim to make trick-or-treating more accessible, letting every child take part in the scary season.
Kensington will be holding a Treat Accessibly Halloween Village on 10A Street NW from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. on Oct. 21.
For Calgarians who want to continue the treat accessibility spirit, the Treat Accessibly organization is offering tips on how to make every home accessible, and giving away free signs to indicate to parents and guardians that those homes are accessible for trick-or-treating.
“I had a child come up to me at the event last year, and she said, ‘I’d never able to go out trick or treating because the cold hurts me.’ She was a six-year-old child, and that was the best way she could explain it, and it was so impactful,” said Rich Padulo, founder of Treat Accessibly.
“What Treat Accessibly is intended to do for the kids who are coming, but also the people that are participating without disabilities, is to open their eyes with a spoonful of sugar to help the medicine go down, to share just how difficult it is for people to get around in our society.”
Children, regardless of ability, are encouraged to dress up in costumes and go home to home. Due to limited space, registration is required to take part in the event.
An aspect of accessibility, said Padulo, is not just limiting events to children with disabilities, but opening society up to people with all degrees of ability to be together—including on Halloween.
“My neighbour, who never really thought about my son coming over to his house because he had stairs, now thinks about that. He wants the kids to play together, and he wants his son, who doesn’t have a disability, to play with the other boys,” Padulo said.
Visitors to the Calgary Treat Accessibility Village on Oct. 21 will take part in all the regular trick-or-treating activities, like going from house to house in costumes and collecting candy. They will also get gifts courtesy of Canadian Tire and Kinder. Families that attend will get a book called Atticus Goes Trick or Treating. It’s based on the true-life story of treat accessibility being created to help one [real-life] little boy. It was written by a grandmother in British Columbia who’d heard about the movement through the media
Making homes accessible on Halloween Night
Padulo said there’s a variety of volunteer groups, including Scouts helping out. He said 300 homeowners are helping set it up right now. When Halloween arrives he hopes that more than 200,000 homeowners take part.
“There’s no feeling of community greater than that than 200,000 homeowners doing the event on Halloween night together to champion children. It’s unbelievable,” he said.
Padulo said that for Calgarians looking to make their home more accessible on Halloween Night, it can be as simple as moving a candy station to the end of a driveway or the bottom of a set of stairs.
“That takes out 90 per cent of the barriers for kids with mobility, sensory and intellectual disabilities,” he said.
“Mobility, it’s obvious, you’ve removed stairs as a barrier. Knocking on a door can be difficult sometimes when you’re in a mobility device, but kids with sensory and intellectual disabilities, by having you in the driveway you’re alleviating all the stresses and barriers that come with engaging a stranger behind the door.”
Other tips include making sure the pathway in front of a home is well-lit, and any obstacles are removed—including moving vehicles off driveways.
Making Halloween decorations more accessible to those with sensory requirements could include considering not using strobe lights, having sudden loud noises, and keeping pets safely away from the front of a house.
For more tips see www.treataccessibly.com/how-to.
Calgarians asked to consider visibly showing a home is accessible with a sign
Padulo asked that Calgarians consider getting a free accessible trick-or-treating lawn sign to indicate which homes are accessible.
Shandrie Lewis, broker and owner of RE/MAX Professionals, said that people can contact the RE/MAX office closest to them to request a free sign.
“Every RE/MAX office has an inventory of this big orange sign. So they can just come on down to any RE/MAX brokerage and pick them up,” she said.
“If we do run out of the physical signs, they can print them off of the treat accessibility website as well.”
Lewis said that the real estate firm, which was one of the original supporters of the treat accessibility movement, has continued to support making homes visibly accessible because of how big a difference it can make for a child.
“All we have to do is have designs available to members of the public and the community to come pick up and help promote it. If we can help to make Halloween a little bit more fun for everybody and more inclusive, then it’s a win-win,” she said.