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Hillhurst neighbours set to host a treat accessibly event 10 days before Halloween


It's hard for kids with limited mobility to walk up front steps and ring a bell at Halloween for treats. So for the second year in a row, people living on a Hillhurst street are bringing candies down their steps and out to the kids two weekends before Halloween.

"By setting up on the street, making everything at a flat level, there's no steps," said John Johnston, who lives on 10A Street N.W. "There's nothing to navigate, people can just go along however they want to travel and everything's brought to them.

"It just created such a wonderful atmosphere," Johnson added. "People had so much fun."

In 2017, the Treat Accessibly Halloween Village project was founded by Rich Padulo and his family who says it's a social initiative dedicated to raising awareness of accessible trick-or-treating for children who identify with a mobility, sensory or intellectual disability.

"His daughter recognized that there was a child in their (Ontario) neighborhood who was unable to trick or treat because this child was in a wheelchair," said Leslie Street, who's participating in this year's event. "So Rich, his wife and daughter recognized that they needed to change the way that their home was set up for trick or treaters."

"This Halloween season, we are partnering with Canadian Tire Corporation to host Treat Accessibly Halloween Villages in nine communities across Canada," said Padulo. "At the villages, parents and children of all abilities will experience curb side and accessible trick-or-treating with their friends and neighbours."

Villages are scheduled during the day in the weeks prior to Halloween to make it easier for parents and caregivers to plan and organize. They're free to attend but do require pre-registration in one-hour time slots because space is limited.

Street said her street in Hillhurst was nominated anonymously to host a Halloween Village and Padulo and the sponsors he's brought on board make it easy for residents.

"He provides the candy, the tables, there's entertainment, there's jugglers, and there's last year, there was a whole troop of Stormtroopers came, which was fabulous," said Street.

"It's Rich's vision come to life," she added. "We get kids of all different ability levels who might otherwise not be able to trick or treat on Halloween in the traditional sense with their peers."

Melissa Lyons also lives on 10A Street. She said it's a fun event because many of the cars are moved off the street that's closed off to traffic so kids can safely move around in the day time from house to house for treats.

"I have a daughter with special needs myself," she said. "Luckily, not physically handicapped, but still, having a spot where the kids can enjoy and do normal things and it's set up for them is iso fantastic.

"It's a load off the parents too,"she added, "because it's tough to take kids places, it's stressful for parents so it's a fantastic initiative. I'm looking forward to it again this year."

Padulo said what started as an accessible Halloween for one child has now grown into a movement across the country, with over 100,000 homes supporting accessible trick-or-treating in nine Canadian cities.

Learn more about Treat Accessibly Halloween Villages and how to register here: Top Stories

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