Healthy treat trade-in

Halloween Candy
Halloween Candy

The day after Halloween, Carolinas Healthcare System will offer help eradicating one of the most frightening foes of the fall holiday: tempting piles of leftover candy.
Parents are encouraged to take their children to a Switch-or-Treat event at four of CHS’ Charlotte-area emergency rooms, including Waxhaw, Harrisburg, South Park and Huntersville, from 4 to 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 1.

“This offers a great opportunity for family fun and education,” said Marcia Messer, vice president of Carolinas Healthcare System Emergency Services. While the program initially focused on encouraging children to relinquish their trick-or-treating loot for more healthy alternatives, Messer said the event also provides a great opportunity to educate children about the emergency department atmosphere via a more relaxed approach.

Upon arriving, participants will be asked to donate their candy to a local charity, and in return will be offered healthier snacks and refreshments. The first 100 to arrive at each location will also receive a Carolina Panthers Sir Purr stuffed animal, which department personnel will use to help demonstrate common emergency visit procedures.

For example, Sir Purr may receive a stretcher ride and have his heart beat checked via stethoscope. He may also take a visit to radiology, giving his new guardians a chance to witness x-ray and CT scan procedures.

“The purpose of this is really four-fold,” Messer said, explaining that the event allows children to remove tempting candy from the house, learn about healthy nutrition, become familiar with the emergency room environment, and even take a moment to sign a card for troops serving overseas. “This gives us the opportunity to bring families together and bring some familiarity to the emergency department and the equipment.”

Encouraging children to visit in the absence of a medical emergency helps them to be less anxious should future visits arise, Messer said. Plus, the event provides the perfect platform for addressing any medical questions. During past Switch-or-Treats, Messer said staff have especially enjoyed how curious their visitors can be.



An added bonus may also include a future career boost, as the flyer invites all “future doctors and nurses.” While their years in the work force may still be in the distance, inspiration can begin now, Messer said, adding that she knew she wanted to become a physician from a young age.

Overall, the free event is a great opportunity for families to turn the focus away from the sugar-laden leftovers of an exciting holiday evening and toward healthy eating, medical education and taking a few moments to thank those serving in the armed forces.

“They’re able to write a card to the troops, and I think that’s very meaningful,” Messer said.