Rolling into Halloween: Montreal initiative outfits kids in wheelchairs with custom costumes

Rolling into Halloween: Montreal initiative outfits kids in wheelchairs with custom costumes

Every day other than Halloween, Émile Laliberté is a regular 10-year-old boy who enjoys gaming online and playing with his cat.

But this Oct. 31, Laliberté will be tearing up the streets as a fearsome dragon, thanks to a custom-made costume for himself and his wheelchair.​

"I'm really excited to scare my friends!" Laliberté said.

The costume is being made by a new Montreal-based project called Rolloween, which creates costumes for children who use wheelchairs. Laliberté has often been frustrated by Halloween costumes that don't accommodate his chair.

"On my last costume, I had something written on the back, but no one could see it," he said.

Leading the Rolloween charge is Montreal handyman Bob Murphy, who drew inspiration for the group from from Magic Wheelchair, an American project with a similar vocation.

Sponsorships, supply donations needed

Since this is Rolloween's first costume, Murphy is looking for sponsorships and donations of supplies. He'll also take all the help he can get.

"Seamstresses and anyone who can wire things up, tape things and hot-glue is more than welcome," he said.

Concordia University has already stepped up to the plate, offering the use of its Makerspace, a workshop with hi-tech machines like 3D printers and laser cutters.

Murphy credits a Makerspace 3D-specialist with inspiring the costume's dragon design at one of Rolloween's first meetings.

"We met at Hurley's Irish Pub and [the specialist] showed up with dragon scales, 3D printed dragon scales. From there, it was a dragon," said Murphy.

Chad the dragon is ready to roll

While there's still lots of work to do before Laliberté can take his costume trick-or-treating, he's already hoping to score big on his favourite chocolate bar, the Kit-Kat. And he's given the dragon an unlikely name: Chad.

His mother, Hélène Fortin, is already thankful for Rolloween's hard work.

"Every child wants to go to Halloween. Every child wants to go knock on doors. Now, we're helping kids who are different to do that, too," she said.

With files from CBC Montreal's Daybreak