Canada

Putting out Halloween treats this year? Consider accessibility, says Toronto dad

TORONTO —
Toronto dad Rich Padulo has a piece of advice to add to the typical Halloween admonishments to make sure children are dressed warmly and wearing bright clothing: try to remove stairs from the scenario.

Doing so will make trick-or-treating much more accessible for children with disabilities, says the Toronto father and founder of the Treat Accessibly campaign.

“Take your station to the end your driveway and really hang out with people and chat with them,” Padulo told CTV’s Your Morning on Monday. “Just remove stairs from the scenario, and other obstacles that might interfere with children with sensory or intellectual disabilities, and just have a blast with it.”

The advice comes as parents and children once again weigh how best to approach Halloween amid the reality of COVID-19, and to balance the need to maintain some social distance with an even that is by its nature a gathering event.

Founded four years ago, Treat Accessibly has been working to raise awareness of accessibility issues around Halloween and to encourage residents and their communities to make sure their celebrations are inclusive. Its campaign includes distributing free lawn signs emblazoned with “Accessible Trick or Treating” that designate homes that have made themselves accessible.

Padulo said the aim is to have 100,000 homes across Canada involved this year, and to continue to expand in the years to come.

“Our goal to make 400,000 homes accessible at Halloween, one home for every child with a disability in our country,” he said.

Padulo got the idea for the campaign in 2017 when he and his family were decorating their home for Halloween.

“We looked across the street and saw a little boy using a wheelchair, and it dawned on us that he couldn’t treat at our home because of the stairs,” he said. “Then we looked out… and we saw stairs everywhere.”

Padulo and his family created their first lawn sign and saw an immediate response from the communities. “Seven families came to our home because they saw the sign,” he said.

Treat Accessibly has since received support from corporate partners, and Ontario cities of Vaughan and Caledon have passed resolutions to promote the campaign.

Along with putting out a sign, the group’s recommendations for ensuring an accessible Halloween include clearing paths and driveways, making sure these areas are well-lit, creating a trick-or-treat station near the end of the driveway, making sure pets are kept away from the front of the house, and refraining from using strobe lights and high-pitched noises.

With the hope that life continues to return to normal as COVID-19 infection rates decline, Padulo says moving Halloween treats off the porch is a way to both improve accessibility and interact more with other members of the community.

“I mean, there’s never been a better time to get social again, right? So, we’re going to have a remix of Halloween,” he said.



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