4 tips for wheelchair-friendly Halloween costumes

For children with mobility challenges, costume planning can be a source of frustration. Here are some tricks for DIY adapting.
Faaris Kutty’s DIY costume was a show-stopper at the Holland Bloorview’s 2012 Halloween parade.

Faaris Kutty’s DIY costume was a show-stopper at the Holland Bloorview’s 2012 Halloween parade.

Knowing that costume planning around a wheelchair can be tricky, we talked to Shirit Oren, spokesperson for Toronto’s Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabiliation Hospital (her son Faaris is a Bloorview client), for her favourite ways to make show-stopping adapted costumes your little trick-or-treater will love.

GO BIG Like Carter’s dad (see below), Oren wanted to celebrate her son’s wheelchair by incorporating it into his costume. Instead of just dressing Faaris as a firefighter in his chair, she built an entire fire truck for Faaris, who has moderate cerebral palsy. Oversized boxes formed the base, then Oren cut out neck- and armholes and painted the creation red. She suggests keeping the box about four inches from the ground to prevent dragging.

BEYOND THE RACK Children with limited mobility get cold quickly, but a coat or snowsuit will hide a storebought costume. Looser looks (capes or cloaks, for example) allow for warm layers underneath without ruining the effect. Oren also suggests supplementing ready-made ensembles with DIY projects to take the look up a notch.

STREAMLINE Be thoughtful with accessories. Swords holstered in belts, for example, can get stuck in wheelchair wheels or get tangled in mobility aids. Remember that wheelchairs need to fit through doorways, so embellishments should be kept as removable elements of the costume in case they need to taken off and put back on again.

CREATE A DRAW Steps and curbs can be a roadblock to getting to the door. “With such a great costume, homeowners came out of their houses to bring the candy to Faaris and get a better look,” Oren says. “Before, Faaris was overlooked or kids would rush past him. As the fire truck, other kids were bringing him candy.”

Holland Bloorview’s annual Change for Kids fundraiser kicks off during the Halloween season. You can help by ordering change coins and handing them out with (or in lieu of ) candy on the big night. For every coin registered online, sponsors of the program will pay $5 to the foundation providing life-changing rehabilitation and education for kids with special needs and their families.

A version of this article appeared in our October 2013 issue with the headline “Tips for adapted costumes,” p. 148.

This photo went viral last Halloween. Carter from South Dakota has spina bifida, and his dad, Mark, turned his wheelchair into an ice cream truck (the year before, it was the Batmobile!).

This photo went viral last Halloween. Carter from South Dakota has spina bifida, and his dad, Mark, turned his
wheelchair into an ice cream truck (the year before, it was the Batmobile!).

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