Although it is a very exciting night for children & adults alike, it is important to be responsible while celebrating this fantastic holiday. At PYD we thought it would be important to share with our community some general Halloween safety tips, ways to accommodate to children with disabilities, and how to watch out for your child’s health on a day that has become centered around eating candy. We hope that this helps you celebrate a safe & inclusive Halloween!
General Safety Tips for Trick-or-Treaters
- Use the buddy system! Children should never go trick-or-treating without adult supervision. If you are out with a big group of children make sure that everyone has a designated buddy to so that no one is left behind.
- Children get very excited about Halloween but it is important to remember that drivers, especially in the city, are not always aware of their surroundings. Avoid crossing the street until you have the pedestrian walk signal and be sure to keep an eye out for drivers ignoring traffic lights.
- Bring a flashlight! Not all neighborhoods are properly lit and the extra light will help children to be aware of their surroundings.
- Never let your child enter a stranger’s house. Make sure your children go to the restroom before you leave the house and plan a few short routes in different directions so that you come home in between houses.
- Stay on the sidewalk, do not cut through lawns! This will help to avoid confrontation with hostile neighbors and can help prevent any tripping or falling down.
- Do not approach houses with the porch light off. This is the universal sign for we aren’t home, we are out of candy, or go away.
- Make sure that at least one person in your party is wearing reflective/light- colored clothing.
Accommodating for Trick-or-Treaters that have a Disability
- If a child is blind, take the time to describe the type of candy you have in the bowl to make sure that they get to choose the type they want.
- Do not try to pet or distract any service dogs that are accompanying trick-or-treaters. They are working to assist an individual with a disability and your distraction takes away from their ability to assist their owner.
- If a child has a hearing impairment remember to face them so they can clearly see your mouth when you are talking, even if they have an interpreter present.
- Have sugar-free & peanut-free candy or snack options. This will make sure that children with diabetes and other dietary restrictions can still participate in the festivities.
- If your building isn’t accessible, which many buildings in Boston are not, move to a more accessible area to hand out candy. This may mean setting up at the bottom of your porch stairs.
- Keep your pets inside the house when trick-or-treaters arrive.
- Be patient and treat the child the same as you would any other child. Even though they might have a disability, they are NOT their disability.
Watching Out for Your Child’s Health
Before you go out trick-or-treating you should prepare your children for what to expect when they come home with their candy. These are what I like to call, Candy Rules. By explaining the rules before children go trick-or-treating they are less likely to be disappointed when they come home.
Candy Rules Suggestions:
- Any candy that is not fully wrapped and sealed is immediately thrown away. Explain to your kids the danger of eating that candy.
- Anything that is homemade is immediately thrown away. Once again, always explain why you have this rule to help kids process and gain understanding.
- Anything children are allergic to or do not like is thrown away or donated. This may seem obvious but some children need reminders that just because the candy is available, doesn’t mean they should eat all of it.
- Start with a small bag rather than a pillowcase to monitor the amount of candy your child receives. Tell your child that once they have filled up the bag then it will be time to go back home.
- Teach by example. If you bought a bunch of candy to pass out and still have bags left over, donate the candy or bring it to work. Children will mirror their parents’ examples and will have a hard time understanding their limitations otherwise.
- Donate Candy. My mother always had us donate at least 1/2 of our candy, if not more. We would get a sandwich size Ziploc bag and fill that with the candy we were keeping and then everything else was donated. Check out this site for where children in Boston can donate their extra candy to dentists for cash & prizes. http://www.halloweencandybuyback.com/search-results.html
On October 14th, Partners for Youth with Disabilities had the pleasure of presenting at the Mitsubishi Electric America Foundation (MEAF) annual board meeting, which was held at the Mitsubishi Electric Research Laboratory (MERL) in Cambridge, MA. MEAF has been a longtime supporter of PYD and our work serving youth with disabilities. One of PYD’s five programs, the Young Entrepreneurs Project (YEP), has also partnered with MERL for job shadows trips and career mentoring. Last spring, YEP students attended a job shadow at MERL and learned about everything from 3-D printers to video programming. MERL has also hosted PYD youth as summer interns!
We were thrilled to be invited to the board meeting and Regina Snowden, PYD Founder and Executive Director, welcomed the group and gave a brief history of our programs. Marissa Drossos, YEP Director, then presented about YEP’s current programming and our partnerships with MERL. The highlight of the meeting was hearing the presentations by PYD youth. Michael Chu, a YEP alum, spoke to the group about his experience in YEP and how the professional skills he gained continue to help him today as a student at Bunker Hill Community College. Tayla Whitehead, a PYD participant, shared her experience with PYD in our Making Healthy Connections program and the wonderful opportunity she had as an intern at MERL.
In the afternoon MEAF representatives from the United States and Japan visited the our offices and saw presentations about each individual PYD program. It was a wonderful day of learning and sharing, and PYD is deeply grateful for the continued support from MEAF and MERL!
We’re excited to announce our newest staff member at PYD, Nicole Malo. She’ll be working as our Development Manager, and we’re glad to have her on board!
It’s my fourth week on the job, and as you can imagine, there is a lot to take in!
My goals here at Partners for Youth with Disabilities are to advance development, work with and engage donors, and spearhead the 30th Anniversary Benefit Event scheduled to take place in May, 2015.
Before joining PYD as their Development Manager, I trained fundraisers, and have worked in Development at various organizations in and around Boston. (Shout out to the Dalai Lama Center for Ethics and Transformative Values at MIT, and the French Cultural Center.) This is also not my first role at PYD; I’ve volunteered at several PYD Benefit Events. (They know how to throw a party!) This IS my first experience working closely with and in-depth for an organization that empowers youth with disabilities.
On a personal note, my father has a mobility disability. As a child, I didn’t dwell on it, and today, I don’t dwell on the fact that he may or may not be seen as “different” because of the way he walks. To a large extent I am not, and have not been aware of his related struggles, except in a few instances. For example, it often seems he needs to conjure extra energy to walk up stairs, or sometimes to maneuver into the car. He’s also had a few falls that come to memory. But once a few years ago at the Thanksgiving table I asked my father, “What is one life lesson or piece of advice you’d like to share?” His advice: “When you fall down, get back up.”
I believe resilience is one of the best qualities for us all to cultivate. We all come to the table with strengths and weaknesses. Part of being human is to look to transcend our limits. I’m happy that through mentorship programs, PYD works to instill confidence and other positive, life-enhancing values in young people, and gives them the opportunity to gain tools to lead productive, fulfilling lives.
What I’ve seen and experienced in my first few weeks at PYD is what I guessed was true: the dedicated staff, helmed by Regina Snowden, demonstrates outstanding talent and care. Program participants–mentors and mentees–express joy at how their lives are positively impacted by programs. Have you checked out some of their stories in this video?
There is an outpouring of cheer-leading and felt connection when I tell people about PYD. It’s got the “WOW” factor, but there is so much hard work ahead! Luckily, PYD team members are in place and they are excellent examples of how to succeed in this meaningful, challenging work. I invite you, the reader, to get involved. Join our Team! Donate. Volunteer. Share a Facebook post. Tweet us.
Thank you and look forward to meeting you!
Byron Nash, Chris Dunne Peer Leadership Awardee
Byron is a long-time participant at Mentor Match, Access to Theatre, and Making Healthy Connections – he’s been with us for nine years. He also has the distinction of being one of our Peer Leaders, and was part of our Youth Leadership Forum and ATT Summer Production this year. In the last few years, Byron has overcome a lot of obstacles and worked towards achieving more independence. Right now, he works at the MBTA and lives on his own in Malden. We are very proud of Byron and consider him a stellar role model.
DJ Robinson, Rayleen Lescay Spirit Awardee
DJ is also a long-time participant in many of our programs, including our Young Entrepreneurs Program, Access to Theatre and Making Healthy Connections. We’ve known DJ for six years. He is another one of our Peer Leaders, and has proven to be a valuable source of support in the Access to Theatre program at Mass Hospital. He works full-time and focuses on helping other PYD participants develop new friendships and develop a more positive perspective on having disabilities. We would like to thank DJ for setting such a great example for us all.
Carl Richardson, Mentor of the Year
Carl has been a mentor with PYD for the past two years, and since being matched with his mentee, Dejan, Carl has consistently gone above and beyond in his role. Carl and Dejan both have a visual impairment, and Carl has been a huge influence in helping Dejan become more independent and more involved in the Blind community. He has introduced Dejan to the American Council for the Blind, and helped Dejan learn to take the Ride independently, gain greater comfort and familiarity with assistive technology, and pursue his academic goals.
Diagnosed with Usher Syndrome at 17 years old, Carl currently works as the ADA Coordinator at the Massachusetts State House. He is a champion for those who need accommodations on the Hill, and he has provided training to participants on advocacy. He has been an amazing role model for Dejan and our other mentors and mentees. In addition to going above and beyond as a mentor, he goes above and beyond for the Mentor Match program as a whole. He has been a voice to increase the awareness about the importance of mentoring youth with disabilities and help us recruit more quality, caring mentors. We’re so lucky to have him as a volunteer!
Halloween is exactly two weeks away and you are starting to think to yourself, I can’t believe Halloween is so close, I haven’t figured out costumes yet! You might even be thinking, I have no clue where to begin! Well take a deep breath, because we have some ideas and tips that will help you create the best Halloween costumes on the block. SENSORY FRIENDLY COSTUME TIPS
- Make sure that any costume material isn’t too uncomfortable (scratchy, too tight, slippery)
- Avoid make-up or masks if your child has any facial sensitivity
- Try to use everyday clothes to create a costume (see the Minion picture below)
- Do not incorporate clothing items that your child won’t wear in other situations
- Prepare your child by discussing costumes with them beforehand & make sure they understand
- Be flexible! The costume doesn’t have to be an exact replica, and they will look great even if there is only a slight resemblance.
DIY COSTUME IDEAS
In case you haven’t frequented Pintrest or thrown a wedding lately, the trending acronym DIY stands for Do It Yourself. DIY costumes are my personal favorite because you get to experience the joy of dressing up while having the satisfaction of creating something. They are like the adult version of artwork that you would post on the fridge. Warning: Making your own costumes will leave you feeling so accomplished that you may end up wearing your costume everywhere or posting 300 photos of your costume on Facebook. Either way we think that you should embrace the experience. After all it captures the true spirit of Halloween, FUN! Here are some basic items you will most likely need when creating your own costume:
- Duct Tape
- Paint/Spray Paint
- Glue/ Hot Glue Gun
This is a great way to be creative and incorporate your child’s wheelchair into the costume like the Dr. Who & Buzz Light-year costumes below.
COSTUMES ON A BUDGET
You might be looking at the costumes above and thinking that you do not have an artistic bone in your body and there is absolutely no way you would be able to make any of those costumes. This is where I would recommend either searching at your local thrift store or in the depths of your closet to find Halloween costumes that won’t break the bank. The best way to find a costume at a thrift store is to try and match the outfit of a favorite character or clothes from a specific time period. Even though you don’t have to be artistic to make these costumes, they still require a bit of creativity.
Again, don’t be afraid to incorporate your child’s walker or wheelchair in their costume, by doing so you will help your child feel included & empowered! Here are some awesome examples of costumes you can replicate:
No matter what you decide to wear, we hope you have a SPOOKTACULAR Halloween!
Do you have any other accessible Halloween costume ideas? Share them in the comments below!
Reference Links for Pictures:
P.S. Have you noticed that we are Dr. Who fans yet?