Revisiting Last Year’s Adaptive TMNT Costume with Party Wagon Gait Trainer!

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By Michael

Halloween, a night of magic and wonder, holds a special place in the hearts of children worldwide. It’s a time when imaginations run wild, and little ones transform into their favorite characters, embarking on adventures fueled by creativity. For many kids, Halloween signifies more than just dressing up—it’s a chance to be part of a vibrant, inclusive community, transcending the boundaries of disabilities. Last Halloween, our family experienced the true spirit of Halloween, as our son, an 18-month-old with his unique challenges, became a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle in his very own Party Wagon thanks to his adaptive TMNT costume.

Our journey began with a desire to incorporate his gait trainer, a device that aids his mobility, into his costume. We browsed through countless online ideas, including a spider, dragon rider, and old man, but nothing ever really grabbed us. Discovering a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles onesie in a pile of hand-me-downs inspired us and ignited our creativity. We transformed our son’s gait trainer into the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’ Party Wagon for Halloween.

With a perfect-sized cardboard box and basic art supplies, I meticulously crafted the Party Wagon recreation, inspired by the cherished Ninja Turtle toys of my childhood. (80s kid ya’ll!) The construction admittedly was a labor of love. Since I was recreating the original Party Wagon, that, of course, had to include the familiar stickers that accompanied the toy. I included stickers that recreated the original ones and others that were inspired by them, showing our son’s journey with “AMC Awareness” and “Toddler Gait Trainer: Harrison” designs. (Turning the “Boot the Foot” sticker to read “On AFO Power” is my personal favorite.)

Little did I know, through it all, that the emotional impact of the process and the costume’s outcome would leave a lasting impression on me.

On Halloween night, as we ventured out with our son and his cousins, I witnessed something remarkable. Strangers didn’t see a disabled child; they saw a spirited Ninja Turtle cruising in his Party Wagon. The absence of arm movement or his AFOs didn’t define him in their eyes. Instead, he was a fellow trick-or-treater, just like any other child. His gait trainer, usually a therapy tool, transformed into a mere accessory, not a requirement or limitation. The reactions from passersby were heartwarming—his disability faded into the background, making way for his incredible costume and the joy and pride he exuded as he made his way down the roads of the subdivision.

Halloween, in all its magical glory, provided a rare opportunity. For that one night, his disability did not define our son. He was simply a Ninja Turtle, embraced and celebrated by the other children and their parents. It was a reminder that holidays like Halloween have the power to break barriers, allowing children with disabilities to be seen for their creativity, imagination, and sheer spirit, just like their peers. Reminding everyone around that at the end of the day, despite their challenges, they’re still just kids.

As parents, we learned a valuable lesson from this experience. Incorporating his gait trainer into his Halloween costume, not as a necessity, but as a celebration of his uniqueness—a testament to his strength and resilience — gave the night a truly unique highlight and memory. One this dad needed then, and at times, still needs it now.

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