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Trick-or-Treat gives impaired children chance at celebration

by Amanda Berg - The Stylus
Tue, Oct 24th 2017 11:25 am
Photo taken from the Center for Disability Advocates Facebook page
It's easy for able-bodied kids to go out and trick-or-treat, but for physically or mentally impaired children, a night of walking around in cold, dark neighborhoods that are decorated in ways that can be overstimulating and scary is just too much. That's why The Center for Disability Rights is holding its annual Accessible Trick-or-Treat event.
Photo taken from the Center for Disability Advocates Facebook page It's easy for able-bodied kids to go out and trick-or-treat, but for physically or mentally impaired children, a night of walking around in cold, dark neighborhoods that are decorated in ways that can be overstimulating and scary is just too much. That's why The Center for Disability Rights is holding its annual Accessible Trick-or-Treat event.

The Center for Disability Rights (CDR) in Rochester, is hosting a night of accessible trick-or-treating on Thursday, Oct. 26, from 5 to 8 p.m., and is seeking volunteers to help with the festivities. 

The event strives for inclusion. For many children with sensory or physical impairments, the simple joys of trick-or-treating may come as a challenge. The CDR is transforming its 497 State Street location in Rochester into an accessible, non-overstimulating Halloween haven, free for all children 10 and under, with and without impairments. 

According to Ryan Chalmers, Manager of Development for the CDR, the organization is projecting that at least 350 children and families will attend the event. With these numbers come a great need for volunteers to dress up and pass out candy at the event. The various departments of the CDR are decorating their floors with different Halloween themes to create the perfect holiday atmosphere for the kids. The themes will remain a secret until the event, creating a fun surprise for the trick-or-treaters. 

From 4 to 5 p.m., the CDR will welcome those with sensory impairments to come trick-or-treat before the hustle of the main event begins. Chalmers stressed that the goal of having a designated sensory-accessible period is to “be a little quieter, and a little less busy than the event will be from 5 to 8 p.m.” 

Chalmers also stated that this event is “greatly unique in its kind.” The CDR has many services and puts on many events, although Accessible Trick-or-Treat is different from some of the other things that they do, which range from forums for those with impairments to speak with candidates, to services for individuals in the community living with impairments. He hopes to start planning out future events that provide the same type of experiences that Accessible Trick-or-Treat will provide.

“CDR staff possess extensive knowledge of community-based resources and practical experience helping individuals transition through major life phases,” Chalmers said. “Through CDR’s peer-led model, participants can learn the skills necessary to become empowered, independent and live fully integrated lives in their local communities.”

For more information about CDR’s services, events and contact information, visit www.cdrnys.org

The College at Brockport’s Coordinator of Service and Community Building, Nikole Van Wie, is getting together a group of students to volunteer at the event. Students interested in attending can contact her directly at 395-5896 or serve@brockport.edu to sign up. A bus from campus will be provided to participants. Van Wie and Chalmers both welcome volunteers up until the day of the event, though both stress that signing up as soon as possible will benefit the CDR so that the organizers will know how many volunteers to expect throughout the evening. 

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