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Caledon backs Treat Accessibly initiative to make Halloween an option for everyone

September 30, 2021   ·   0 Comments

By Rob Paul

Caledon Town Council met with Rich Padulo, Founder of the Treat Accessibly Initiative, on Tuesday and passed a motion to support and promote the initiative. The organization works to make homes more accessible and inclusive to all on Halloween.

“My family created Treat Accessibly with a pretty simple notion of making Canada the first country in the world to have an accessible Halloween,” said Padulo. “I’m the proud dad of a 10-year-old who won the Rick Hansen Foundation Difference Maker Award and I founded Treat Accessibly across North America. We’re a registered organization, but we’re not a charity, we’re just a grassroots movement. We’re encouraging the community to participate in an accessible Halloween across Canada. The reason we’re here (at Council) is we’re looking for support from Caledon to endorse this initiative and make it part of your annual Halloween programming—like the cities of Mississauga, Brampton, and soon to be Vaughan.”

The Treat Accessibly Initiative was born a few years ago as Padulo was preparing for Halloween and he came to the realization that for some children, it wasn’t as easy as dressing up and hitting the neighbourhood with their parents.

“This is how the story came about: I was putting pumpkins on my stairs in 2017 and I looked up and there was a little boy using his wheelchair with his family and we locked eyes as he saw me putting pumpkins on my stairs,” he said. “It hit me like a ton of bricks that he wouldn’t be able to trick-or-treat at my home. 

“From there I looked up at every other house and every other house had stairs, and it hit me like another ton of bricks. The next day we had a sign homemade and, on our lawn, and that Halloween we had seven families with mobility censoring and intellectual disabilities, not knowing anything about the sign and just saying that they saw it so it attracted them there. What we did was we had the trick-or-treating experience in our driveway that year which made all the difference in the world that the children could trick-or-treat with disabilities with their family and other kids. It created a whole new level of socialization for them.”

The entire Council was behind the initiative and each of them commended Padulo’s efforts to make Halloween something everyone can be involved in no matter the circumstances and ensured that the RE/MAX offices in Caledon carry the free signs for residents to acquire. 

“This is a phenomenal initiative and I absolutely applaud your leadership,” said Councillor Tony Rosa. “I would definitely encourage and advocate for the Town of Caledon to be behind an initiative of this kind, leaving nobody behind at Halloween. What an incredible message and I’m really pleased and honoured to be here listening to it.” 

Councillor Nick DeBoer and Mayor Allan Thompson both were adamant that the Town could help support the initiative and as a result it led to the passing of a motion for Town Staff to be directed to support and promote Treat Accessibly within the Caledon community using Town resources, as needed. 

“You’ve really stirred the heart of everybody here in Caledon,” said Thompson. “It’s great; especially with Halloween, you want it for everyone. It doesn’t matter who you are, you should be entitled to have that opportunity.”

In 2019, Treat Accessibly had 25,000 signs produced by RE/MAX and distributed for free across 168 Home Depots which led to the Ontario Premier, six Minister, the Mayor of Toronto, 23 other politicians supporting the initiative, and every major non-profit in the accessibility space.

By 2020, 40,000 Canadian homes had the Treat Accessibility sign for Halloween and with Halloween back in 2021, they expect that to grow and by 2025 for homes across Canada and into the United Sites to be accessible on Halloween.

“Just two years after we had one sign on our lawn, 25,000 homes participated in the initiative,” said Padulo. “To put it in perspective, there’s two million Canadians who identify with having a disability who were all children one day and there’s 400,000 kids today that typically don’t get to trick-or-treat like everybody else. In four years, we think we can be in 4.4 million homes across North America, Kinder has just started the conversation to launch the movement in the United States.”

The growing support over the years has led Padulo and his initiative to have more signs available at various locations and more regions backing Treat Accessibly than ever before.

“This year, we have close to 100,000 signs going out on the market and we have the support of Kinder, RE/MAX, and Canadian Tire championing the movement in various ways,” he said. “Sobeys across Ontario, Atlantic, and Quebec will have huge signage and be giving away free lawn signs—not just lawn signs, but we have lawn flags as well. Hasbro and Amazon Canada will be completely supporting the movement, the Ontario Minster (of Seniors and Accessibility) will be sending a letter to all sitting officials (Ontario MPs) to support the movement within their ridings. 

“One of the things we’re most proud of is we partnered with the Rick Hansen Foundation, and we are now going to be at 120 Peel Region schools teaching a Treat Accessibly Rick Hansen Inclusion agenda with the goal of letting every kid go home and teach their parents about accessible inclusion and then hopefully participate on Halloween.” 

Padulo got emotional talking about the upcoming event Treat Accessibly has organized in partnership with Canadian Tire to provide children living with disabilities a true Halloween experience. 

“This Saturday (October 2), Canadian Tire has sponsored a $70,000 event,” he said. “We’re going to be closing down a street in Toronto and 30 homes will be participating in a full Halloween setup and Canadian Tire helped fund them to add to their decor. We have invited children of Holland Bloorview (Children’s Rehabilitation Hospital) and many of these kids have never gotten to have a Halloween before, and we’re going to have a pretty crazy one. 

“The city permits office said they’ve never got a permit through as quickly as this one—it usually takes eight weeks, we got it done in six days. We’re going to have over 750 individuals there in the span of a day in a COVID safe environment. We’re going to film the event and our sponsors (Canadian Tire, Kinder, and RE/MAX) are going to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to share the video socially across Canada at which point people can come to our website for free templates and information on how they can rally their neighbourhood on how to do this.”

To support Treat Accessibility, residents can order a lawn sign for free and learn more about the project at



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