I want to make an official statement about the pumpkins this year. As many of you may know about 5 years ago Tim and I started working with our neighbors and friends to make Halloween inclusive for Casey. Some did this on their own while we took stickers, pencils, etc. to others. Since Casey can not eat anything at all it felt mean to take her trick-or-treating for candy that she couldn’t have. Instead we took her to the houses that were expecting her where she trick-or-treated for things that she could have and enjoy.
This was so easy and everyone seemed to respond really well so the following year we created an organization called CLU Campaign (inCLUsive activities). We worked really hard to take our inclusive approach to Halloween to the public so that other kids like Casey could get in on the fun as well. We were very careful to make sure that this was never seen as an anti-candy campaign though. We still encouraged people to have candy, but to pick up some stickers or some sort of non-food treat to go with their candy.
The campaign was a huge success and the following year we teamed up with a larger organization (Mommies of Miracles- MOM) to reach even more kids. We eventually merged CLU Campaign with MOM. Our Halloween project was a huge success. There were a few people that saw it as healthy treats as opposed to non-food treats, but most people understood that non-food treats were great for everyone.
People say that imitation is the greatest form of flattery. This isn’t exactly true. Last year MANY organizations took our idea and tried to make it their own. I am sure many of you saw flyers and details for projects like the teal pumpkin, purple pumpkin, etc. While I tried to be flattered that these people liked our idea enough to use it themselves, I was also really angry that I did not copyright the idea and that they didn’t reach out and try to work together as opposed to just taking it.
As Halloween went on last year many of the new projects got out of hand and very off point. They started to turn anti-candy and many people were very turned off of the idea after how some of these organizations presented the idea. They got a lot of media coverage which was great, but they were not well received by many.
This summer I stepped down as president of Mommies of Miracles and I have decided that I am not going to continue the Trick-or-Treat project that we created. I think that many people have the right idea about including ALL kids now, and I think that the inclusion effort is more effective when done on a smaller scale. If we all teach those in our own lives and communities why inclusion matters as opposed to a large organization delivering the message in a negative way, I think there is a lot better chance for the efforts to be lasting and sincere.
So, no, I will not be sending out the mass email to everyone asking for help spreading the word on our Trick-or-Treat project this year. I will not be posting links to the project page and lists of non-food treat ideas. No, instead this year, I am going to enjoy my own community. My own community has already shown me that they want Casey to be included, they have already shown me that they understand and they care.
This doesn’t mean that I have given up trying to make Halloween inclusive for all kids, I just think that the message has gone sour with some organizations misrepresenting the idea. I think it is time to step aside and let the dust settle around some of the negative campaigns. It may take years, or maybe they will get it right (this year or sometime in the future) and the original idea will be reborn. For everyone that offers an inclusive Halloween, thank you. I hope that you continue to do this for kids like Casey. You really do make a difference.