McCarthy Teszler School offers tips to make Halloween inclusive

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SPARTANBURG, S.C. (WSPA) – On Halloween, McCarthy Teszler School broke the day down into fun for everyone.

Many of the students at McCarthy have special needs, and the day of fun was aimed at being no different than at any other school, principal Rene Ford said.

“All kids, whether they’re special needs or not, love a holiday. They love to dress up, and they really just want to participate in what everybody else does,” Ford said.

The school started the morning with costume contests where teachers, faculty, staff and students all competed.

McCarthy Teszler School’s Mario Kart Group Costume

Afterwards, there was trunk-or-treat. Students went from table to table in the gymnasium collecting treats such as candies or apple sauce, pudding cups or toys.

In the afternoon, there was a Halloween dance for the older students.

Assistant Technology Rehabilitation Technician, Kim Scruggs, said Thursday was all about fun.

“Being a kid is the best thing ever. So we need to let them be children. Be kids, have fun,” Scruggs said.

Scruggs and special education teacher Dana Rutkowski were on the Halloween day committee. Rutkowski was committee leader. She said everyone’s hard work paid off.

McCarthy Teszler School Trunk-or-Treat

“Even though it’s really chaotic. I think it’s a lot of fun for [students] and they may not always have those experiences at home,” Rutkowski said.

The pair agreed that hosting a large events with music, decorations and costumes can be great practice for when parents want to try to do things with their student outside of school.

Additionally, having some treats that were not candy allowed all of the students to feel included.

“They have special diets, so we have to make sure that they can have something,” Rutkowski said.

Some neighborhoods have been working to be more inclusive to children with special needs and abilities.

Across the country, different neighborhoods have been focusing on things like the blue pumpkin pail or a teal pumpkin project.

The Teal Pumpkin Project is when a home has teal pumpkins or signs outside the home, showing trick-or-treaters can get peanut free, organic treats or just toys.

The Blue Pumpkin pail can signify that the trick-or-treater on your doorstep could have special needs. This means he or she may not say ‘Trick-or-Treat’ or even make eye contact. Don’t take offense. They’re not trying to be rude.

Ford added those handing out candy are encouraged to ask questions if you’d like to give out treats that, ideally, everyone can have.

“Don’t be afraid to ask the adults who are with them if they are special needs or if there’s anything. You won’t hurt anybody’s feelings, you won’t make anybody feel bad,” Ford said.  

If you’re handing out candy, it doesn’t hurt to have alternative treats since the main goal is to make sure everyone has a fun holiday.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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