by Angela Wright, mother of three boys
Inclusion is an important word, especially when used to describe how we can build communities that welcome kids with special needs. To most of us, the term “special needs” conjures up images of physical differences, like the outward traits of Down Syndrome or the use of prosthetics for missing limbs. But not all disabilities are so apparent. Special needs can also refer to dietary issues (food allergies), developmental issues (autism) or attentional issues (ADHD), for example. How do we make sure we are including all children when we might not be sure what they need. The best thing to do is ask their parents!
The CLU Campaign, the brainchild of Marty Barnes who is a parent of a child with special healthcare needs, was established to help find ways to promote, improve and establish inCLUsion for our children with special needs. There are many inclusion efforts in place in schools and businesses that you might already know about such as ramps and special viewings at movie theaters for those with sensory issues. CLU wants to expand these efforts in the community.
To kick off the campaign, CLU has launched its Trick-or-Treat Project.
When you think about it for many kids candy is simply not an option. But we don’t want these kids to miss out on the fun of Halloween. The Trick-or-Treat Project promotes inclusion by reminding us to offer a variety of treats so that kids have a choice! But the project goes a step farther. Households can sign-up to be included in a list of families who have made a commitment to make Halloween inclusive. Other families can go to these homes knowing they will receive non-candy treats.
“I have created the CLU Campaign in an attempt to give ALL kids a chance to have the childhood they deserve!” said Marty Barnes, founder of The CLU Campaign. “My kick-off project – The Trick-or-Treat Project – is focused on encouraging and promoting inclusion during Halloween.”
Follow three simple steps to become a CLU-friendly household this Halloween:
- Add some non-food treats to your Halloween mix, such as spider rings, Dracula teeth, small toys, play doh, pencils, temporary tattoos, glow sticks and many others.
- Print and post a Trick-or-Treat Project decal where it’s visible to trick-or-treaters. You may be surprised that more children may choose a non-candy option. Not every healthcare need is visible.
- Share Halloween fun with ALL kids.
If a trick-or-treater shows up at your house wearing a CLU pumpkin decal pinned to his or her costume, remember to provide only non-candy treats to that child. If you’d like to join other families committed to this effort, consider registering your home on an interactive map (Austin-area only in 2011) to make it easier to plan a trick-or-treating route. Your participation will help The CLU Campaign provide a healthy, inclusive approach to Trick-or-Treating.
Angela Wright is the mother of three boys and an event planner for Hand to Hold. She is also an active PTA volunteer at her sons’ schools.