You may say I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope some day you’ll join us
And the world will be as one – John Lennon
You may have seen a few in your neighborhood or local craft store. You may have thought they were just a new fad or decorating trend. But they aren’t.
They are so much more.
Teal pumpkins have a significant and compassionate message. They signify inclusion for children with food allergies or intolerances. They signify teal love which is what a food allergy mom feels for her child, and what a community feels for the children in it. I dream of seeing teal pumpkins in every store, at every festival, on every block. I am a food allergy dreamer, and I will not stop dreaming, planning and blogging in order to make this world better and safer for my 6 year old son who has a life-threatening allergy to all nuts.
John Lennon writes “from this moment on I know, exactly where my life will go, seems that all I really was doing, was waiting for love.” My son brought so much love back into my life after suffering 5 miscarriages. I will protect him and show him all the teal love that I can, for as long as I can.
Teal is the color that was chosen for food allergy awareness. In 2012, Becky Basalone created the Teal Pumpkin Project as a way to spread this awareness in a positive way. She began painting pumpkins teal and handing out non food items, such as glow sticks or spider rings, on Halloween.
Her wonderful idea spread very quickly and was soon being promoted by Food Allergy Research and Education. FARE is an organization leading the way in regards to educating the public and funding research of food allergies.
When I got over the shock of my son’s food allergy diagnosis, I feared for his safety, and I feared that he would not be able to enjoy many of the things his peers did. I wondered about how family vacations would change. I wondered about holidays like Halloween.
I wanted him to continue our tradition of going trick or treating, but I knew that he could no longer eat the candy he received due to his life-threatening allergy to all nuts. The first year I put some gloves on him which matched his Super Mario costume, and I let him take some candy. As soon as we got home I put that candy away for donations to local groups, and I gave him a bag that I pre-filled with safe nut-free candy.
He didn’t know the difference, and I was glad that my efforts had paid off. Soon after that I learned about the Teal Pumpkin Project. I was so grateful that such a thing existed, and I felt very uplifted.
Each year as we go trick or treating, we see a few more teal pumpkins, and many more non-food bowls of toys, etc being offered. I explained to my son how amazing it is to see such caring people in our neighborhood, people who are going out of their way to see that he and other children like him are included on Halloween.
We participate by painting teal pumpkins each year, and by providing some non-food treats in a separate bowl to avoid cross-contamination by the nut-free candy in our other bowl. We also try to help spread the word by talking to friends and family, and via social media.
When I find out about simple projects or ideas that I can participate in to help children, I often join in. They often do not take up much time, and can mean the world to a child.
It doesn’t matter if such projects directly affect me or my family. It matters that we all can make a difference in other’s lives.
In fact we should.
It doesn’t take much to participate in the Teal Pumpkin Project, and the little effort you put in can mean the world to a child with food allergies or intolerances.
These children often get excluded or bullied. Just because they have a life-threatening allergy to food. They would love to be allergen-free and be able to eat whatever they want, but they cannot. They learn to slowly accept their diagnosis and have to learn to function in this allergen filled world as they grow up. They cannot go to most bakeries, restaurants or ice cream shops. They shouldn’t have to give up their Halloween traditions as well.
We can all help them by providing a safe environment for them in which they can be included. If you have any questions, just ask their food allergy mom’s or families who will help you learn more.
All it takes is a few questions and a few meaningful acts to make a difference in these children’s lives.
So show some teal love this Halloween, and the world will be a much more boo-tiful place.