+

For young kids, Halloween should be fun-scary. Not scary-scary.

While your child might do just fine with elaborate costumes, frightening yard displays, and stuffing their face with as much sugary candy as possible, there are many, many others for whom Halloween poses unique challenges.

In the U.S., 1 in 13 children have a serious food allergy, for example, and 1 in 68 have an autism spectrum disorder. And about 1 in 20 school-aged children in the U.S. have a significant physical or mental disability. It all starts to add up, and many of these issues may not be outwardly visible.


If you're hosting a Halloween party, putting up some last-minute decorations, or even just gearing up for trick-or-treaters, here's a few super simple things you can do to make this Halloween more inclusive, accessible, welcoming, and just generally awesome for every kid to participate in:

1. Fruity candies are great for everyone, but especially for kids with food allergies.

[rebelmouse-image 19532834 dam="1" original_size="5000x3333" caption="Photo by Foodie Factor/Pexels." expand=1]Photo by Foodie Factor/Pexels.

Peanut allergies get all the glory, but kids can be allergic to nearly anything. Common food allergies include peanuts, eggs, dairy, and gluten. Some families of candy, however, are safer bets than others.

Fruity candies, like Sour Patch Kids, gummy bears, Skittles, and Starburst, are a great thing to pass out for this very reason, but you can also find special kinds of chocolate made from hypoallergenic ingredients too.

There's nothing wrong with handing out Snickers, Twix, and the usual candy suspects, but if you're looking to offer some other options or want to pick just one kind of candy that pretty much anyone can enjoy, fruity candies are usually a safe bet.

2. Candy may be traditional, but nonedible treats are a good trick-or-treat option too.

In the case of severe allergies, it might be easier for some families to just avoid candy and sweets altogether — a potentially major bummer on a holiday almost entirely based around candy.

But there's a simple solution! Pick up some stickers, crayons, or other small nonedible treats (you can usually find them cheap, in bulk in the party supplies aisle) and offer those as trick-or-treating options alongside or instead of candy.

If you do this, consider putting a teal pumpkin outside your door or near the sidewalk. This signals to trick-or-treaters that you have non-edible treats to offer — letting everyone knows not to skip your house.

[rebelmouse-image 19532835 dam="1" original_size="3934x2623" caption="Photo via Food Allergy Research & Education." expand=1]Photo via Food Allergy Research & Education.

3. Having a party? Perhaps set aside a "quiet down room" to give kids a space to get away from the crowd.

A raucous Halloween party with movies and music blaring and kids running around can be overwhelming for anyone, especially young kids with anxiety or hypersensitivity issues.

Consider closing off a room in your house as a quiet and nonspooky zone where kids can just go to chill out. This might be a good place to have low-key crafts or just dimmed lights and a comfy place to sit.

For hyposensitive kids, on the other hand...

4. Offer a variety of hands-on Halloween games and activities that keep kids engaged.

Kids who are hyposensitive are understimulated by the world around them and may prefer tactile activities like sticking their hands in a bowl of peeled grapes to simulate eyeballs, for example.

Child psychologist Dawn Huebner recommends having some games available that aren't purely based on winning or losing too and activities where shy or anxious kids can help (i.e., by passing out supplies or keeping score) without fully participating if they aren't comfortable.

5. For kids who can't get up to your porch or front walkway, bring the candy to them.

If you have a porch or stoop with steps, it might be hard for some kids who use assistance devices (like wheelchairs or walkers) to come up and knock on the door. Consider sitting at the bottom close to the sidewalk or street and handing out candy during peak hours or leaving a bowl closer to the street if you can't be there in person.

You can even rent a ramp for the day, if you're so ... inclined.

6. Remember that costumes and dress-up aren't comfortable for everyone — try not to judge costumes at the door.

We've all seen the teenagers who come trick-or-treating and their "costume" is a paper bag over their heads, and we all know they're just in it for the free candy.

But try not to play costume police, especially with younger kids. After all, trick-or-treating shouldn't be a costume competition. Some kids with anxiety, sensory issues, or even just kids who are really shy might be more comfortable in something that looks, to you, like a half-hearted or lazy get-up. For them, it might be the only reason they were willing to leave the house.

A simple and heartfelt, "You look great!" will go a long way.

7. Have some dedicated "mask off" time.

This might be a little much. Photo by Thomas Roberts/Unsplash.

Super frightening or gory costumes can scare any kid, but Huebner says, "It can be hard to predict what's going to be frightening for a child," noting that often even silly or goofy masks can be very scary for certain kids.

Consider having some periods of mask off time to re-establish comfort.

"For kids who are more broadly afraid, being able to see 'This is a mask and it comes on and off and there's a person inside of it' can be reassuring," she says.

If you're really dedicated to a truly spooky halloween and don't want to take the mask off — see #3 "have a quiet room" above or consider putting a sign by your front walkway alerting parents that their kids might not enjoy trick-or-treating from you.

8. Other parents will definitely appreciate seeing a party agenda in advance.

There's really no way for you to prepare for every possible issue that might arise during a party, gathering, or haunted house, nor should you be expected to have a contingency plan for every single thing that might come up. No one knows kids better than their own parents though.

If you're worried that you might not have something on hand to make your party great for everyone, sending a party agenda in advance is a great way to give parents a chance to prepare their kids for what to expect.

"It works best if hosts are clear in invitations, so families can make decisions about whether they want to go," Huebner says. "Anxious kids, and really all kids, do really, really well with previewing. With being told in advance what's going to happen. It's still exciting, but it's less likely to be really terrifying in a way that isn't fun."

Halloween is a fun, spooky holiday, but it's more fun when everyone can participate.

Feeling a little bit spooked on All Hallows' Eve is great, but it shouldn't be traumatizing. Kids shouldn't be made to feel they're in real danger or that they're being left out of the fun. No one wants that.

Making your Halloween celebrations inclusive and welcoming to everyone doesn't mean doing away with any of your favorite Halloween traditions. All it takes is a little extra thought and some simple preparations to make sure everyone has as awesome time as you do.

Photo courtesy of Girls at Work

True

Girls are bombarded with messages from a very young age telling them that they can’t, that is too big, this is too heavy, those are too much.

Keep ReadingShow less
via Lewis Speaks Sr. / Facebook

This article originally appeared on 02.25.21


Middle school has to be the most insecure time in a person's life. Kids in their early teens are incredibly cruel and will make fun of each other for not having the right shoes, listening to the right music, or having the right hairstyle.

As if the social pressure wasn't enough, a child that age has to deal with the intensely awkward psychological and biological changes of puberty at the same time.

Jason Smith, the principal of Stonybrook Intermediate and Middle School in Warren Township, Indiana, had a young student sent to his office recently, and his ability to understand his feelings made all the difference.

Keep ReadingShow less
All images provided by Adewole Adamson

It begins with more inclusive conversations at a patient level

True

Adewole Adamson, MD, of the University of Texas, Austin, aims to create more equity in health care by gathering data from more diverse populations by using artificial intelligence (AI), a type of machine learning. Dr. Adamson’s work is funded by the American Cancer Society (ACS), an organization committed to advancing health equity through research priorities, programs and services for groups who have been marginalized.

Melanoma became a particular focus for Dr. Adamson after meeting Avery Smith, who lost his wife—a Black woman—to the deadly disease.

melanoma,  melanoma for dark skin Avery Smith (left) and Adamson (sidenote)

This personal encounter, coupled with multiple conversations with Black dermatology patients, drove Dr. Adamson to a concerning discovery: as advanced as AI is at detecting possible skin cancers, it is heavily biased.

To understand this bias, it helps to first know how AI works in the early detection of skin cancer, which Dr. Adamson explains in his paper for the New England Journal of Medicine (paywall). The process uses computers that rely on sets of accumulated data to learn what healthy or unhealthy skin looks like and then create an algorithm to predict diagnoses based on those data sets.

This process, known as supervised learning, could lead to huge benefits in preventive care.

After all, early detection is key to better outcomes. The problem is that the data sets don’t include enough information about darker skin tones. As Adamson put it, “everything is viewed through a ‘white lens.’”

“If you don’t teach the algorithm with a diverse set of images, then that algorithm won’t work out in the public that is diverse,” writes Adamson in a study he co-wrote with Smith (according to a story in The Atlantic). “So there’s risk, then, for people with skin of color to fall through the cracks.”

Tragically, Smith’s wife was diagnosed with melanoma too late and paid the ultimate price for it. And she was not an anomaly—though the disease is more common for White patients, Black cancer patients are far more likely to be diagnosed at later stages, causing a notable disparity in survival rates between non-Hispanics whites (90%) and non-Hispanic blacks (66%).

As a computer scientist, Smith suspected this racial bias and reached out to Adamson, hoping a Black dermatologist would have more diverse data sets. Though Adamson didn’t have what Smith was initially looking for, this realization ignited a personal mission to investigate and reduce disparities.

Now, Adamson uses the knowledge gained through his years of research to help advance the fight for health equity. To him, that means not only gaining a wider array of data sets, but also having more conversations with patients to understand how socioeconomic status impacts the level and efficiency of care.

“At the end of the day, what matters most is how we help patients at the patient level,” Adamson told Upworthy. “And how can you do that without knowing exactly what barriers they face?”

american cancer society, skin cacner treatment"What matters most is how we help patients at the patient level."https://www.kellydavidsonstudio.com/

The American Cancer Society believes everyone deserves a fair and just opportunity to prevent, find, treat, and survive cancer—regardless of how much money they make, the color of their skin, their sexual orientation, gender identity, their disability status, or where they live. Inclusive tools and resources on the Health Equity section of their website can be found here. For more information about skin cancer, visit cancer.org/skincancer.

Isaiah Garza took a 100-year-old veteran to Disneyland for a day of joy.

Isaiah Garza knows a thing or two about struggle. Having lived in poverty and been in and out of homelessness growing up, the Los Angeles-based designer, entrepreneur, philanthropist and public speaker hasn't traveled an easy road, but has always felt compelled to make life better for others and inspire future generations.

Thanks to Rihanna being photographed wearing one of his jewelry designs on the cover of a French magazine, Garza has gotten to fulfill his dream. His successful design business has enabled him to spend a chunk of his money and time making people's days a little brighter and sharing the effects of simple, kind and generous acts on social media.

For example, Garza recently invited a 100-year-old veteran he bumped into to spend a day with him at Disneyland. The man uses a walker, and most people probably wouldn't think to ask a centenarian with mobility challenges if they want to go to a theme park, but the day they had together speaks to the power of reaching out without assumptions about limitations.

Keep ReadingShow less
Pop Culture

'90s kids share movies that will 'take you back to a better time'

It was a magical time when animals played sports and yet somehow things were just simpler.

YouTube/Upworthy photo illustration

Honey, I shrunk the kid named Matilda while jamming in space!

Everyone knows that '90s movies just hit different. From sports movies to rom-coms to even horror, there was an undeniable innocence, without being overly simplistic or juvenile. They didn’t have nearly the amount of money going into production as they do today, but somehow managed to transport us to magical places.

Movies of the '90s are so iconic that there have been several attempts to reboot beloved titles. Which, let’s face it, tends to be a fool's errand at a cash grab. These movies are so timeless that simply viewing the original is more than fine.

Not sure which movie to start with? You’re in luck—a Reddit user by the name of YouBrokeMyTV asked ’90s kids to share movies that took them “back to a better time,” and because the internet can be a wonderful place, tons of people responded with some beloved classics.

These answers certainly don’t make a definitive list (there are just so, so many gems) but they're a fun glimpse into what made '90s cinema so special. A nostalgic romp through memory lane, if you will.

Enjoy these 14 titles that just might leave you jonesing for a rewatch:

1. "Honey, I Shrunk the Kids"

via GIPHY

A perfect example of how '90s movies were silly, but smart at the same time. And oh so wholesome.

2. "The Sandlot"

via GIPHY

It taught us nothing about baseball, but everything about friendship, rooting for the underdog and (most important) how to make s’mores.

3. "Drop Dead Fred"

via GIPHY

Critics might have run this cult classic through the mud during its inception, but audiences fell in love with the bizarre charm of this story about a mischievous little girl and her anarchist imaginary friend. So take that, snotfaces!

4. "The Goonies"

via GIPHY

Everyone just wanted to set off an epic quest with their friends for pirate treasure after seeing this movie.

5. Tim Burton's "Batman"

via GIPHY

Before the superhero genre was the behemoth it is today, a quirky director and the dude who was best known for playing the creepy demon in "Beetlejuice" breathed new life into comic-book movies. Marvel might be the leader on creating stories with adult themes that are digestible for kids nowadays, but this DC film was the first of its kind. Plus, that soundtrack … forget about it.

6. "Hook"

via GIPHY

Pretty much any '90s film starring Robin Williams was an absolute gem, but this one in particular is timeless. His gift of balancing childlike humor with emotional gravitas lent itself so well to playing the now grown and cynical Peter Pan, who must learn to reclaim his joy (relatable, millennials?). It was a bang-a-rang-er, no question.

7. "Space Jam"

via GIPHY

It had Looney Tunes, it had aliens and it had Michael Jordan. That’s a winning combination.

8. "Matilda"

via GIPHY

I don’t think I’m out of line when I say that this movie helped a lot of kids make their way through difficult childhoods.

9. "The Parent Trap"

via GIPHY

Even '90s reboots were awesome. And how fun it is to see that Lisa Ann Walker—the actress who played Chessy the housekeeper—is not only yet again gracing the screens in NBC’s “Abbott Elementary,” but is also being revered as a style icon on TikTok for her ultra casual looks in the film. We all knew she was onto something with long button downs and shorts.

10. "The Land Before Time"

via GIPHY


No cartoon, not even “The Lion King,” was a better depiction of childhood grief. And yet, despite encapsulating tragedy, director Don Bluth still left viewers hopeful. The subsequent 14 (yes 14) sequels definitely pale in comparison to the original, but "The Land Before Time" continues to stand the test of time nonetheless.

11. "Richie Rich"

via GIPHY

The scene where they play tag on four-wheelers is simply iconic.

12. "Dunston Checks In"

via GIPHY

Man, the '90s were the golden age of animal-centered films. And not just monkeys either—we got sports playing golden retrievers and not one, but two movies starring talking pigs. What a time to be alive. These films were made before CGI had reached the levels it’s at today, and the authentic interactions between humans and creatures reached right through the screen.

13. "George of the Jungle"
george of the jungle, brendan faser

Watch out for the tree!!!

Giphy

Have I seen this movie at least 20 times? Probably. It doesn’t get any better than this in terms of silly action films with bird puppets. It’s crazy to think that this role would eventually lead Brendan Fraser to "The Mummy" franchise, turning him into a household name. Though his career has had some tragic ups and downs, we are all grateful for the glorious comeback he’s been having.

14. Anything involving Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen
mary kate and ashley

Yes, they were professional detectives.

Giphy

Whether vacationing in London, Paris or Rome, whether playing magical witches or making a huge billboard so their father could find love … Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen offered zany, whimsical entertainment while wearing fun outfits. Sometimes, that’s all you need.