Trick or Tweet brings Halloween to families separated by illness.

Palo Alto, California, USA

Every year Packard Children’s Hospital in Palo Alto, Calif., throws a Halloween party to give kids with serious illnesses the chance to experience a “normal” Halloween. The staff makes each nursing station a designated place to stop for treats, and encourages the kids to wear costumes and stop at each one, like kids going door-to-door. Nurses and doctors dress up too, of course. The atmosphere is happy, if poignant.

Since parents are sometimes not able to stay full-time during a child’s long illness, the staff wanted to find a way to reach the extended families and local communities of children who have travelled long distances for treatment.

Their solution: Trick or Tweet. It’s a way for loved ones who can’t be there in person to experience the moment as it happens. Staff take and Tweet photos of the costumed kids, and encourage families back home to follow along and respond on Twitter.

“We think it’s one very cool way to give kids a little bit of normalcy,” said Colette Case, director of child and family life services, whose team organizes the party. “It’s a major event for all of us, and we’re proud of the happiness it creates.”