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'It touches my heart': Inclusive Halloween villages Saturday help more kids trick-or-treat

A Treat Accessibly sign in front of a home in Edmonton, Alberta. (Sean McClune/CTV News Edmonton) A Treat Accessibly sign in front of a home in Edmonton, Alberta. (Sean McClune/CTV News Edmonton)

Special accessible Halloween villages popped up in Edmonton and St. Albert Saturday.

Treat Accessibly hosted two Halloween Villages designed to make the holiday more inclusive and help raise awareness around trick-or-treating for children with disabilities.

Summerside Grande Boulevard in Edmonton and Ellington Crescent in St. Albert were two of 11 communities in Canada hosting an inclusive Halloween village Saturday.

Ruba Zakaria, an organizer for the Edmonton village, said it's important to make space for all kids to experience the tradition of collecting candy.

Saturday, Summerside closed the road to accommodate wheelchairs and give kids with disabilities a chance to experience Halloween before the Oct. 31 rush.

"I have a special needs kid … and I work with autistic children and other special needs, [like] wheelchairs," Zakaria said. "And they are not able to join other children and families in trick-or-treating.

"It's too crowded for them here on Summerside Boulevard … we get around 2,000 People trick or treating on Halloween night. So it's too loud, the lights are too bright."

During the event, Treat Accessibly handed out the children's book Atticus Goes Trick-or-Treating, about a boy in a wheelchair who struggles to go door-to-door on Halloween due to steep driveways and stairs.

Residents were also given lawn signs to signal if their home offers accessible options for candy collection.

"Our goal is 200,000 homes this year, we want to make everybody accessible," said Treat Accessibly founder Rich Padulo. "Ninety per cent of it being accessible for Halloween is just doing it at the end of your lawn or your driveway – to take out stairs and barriers such as a closed door for kids with intellectual and sensory disabilities, as well as mobility."

Zakaria said around 32 homes in Summerside participated this year.

"Homeowners everywhere, not just here, are so amazing," she added. "People [are] coming to me this year and saying, 'My kid was never able to trick-or-treat' or 'this has been so tough for them on Halloween night, and now you guys are doing this.'

"I'm just so overwhelmed by the feedback and I'm proud of Edmontonians doing this – it touches my heart."

For more information, visit the Treat Accessibly website. Top Stories

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