All too often, news (and clicks) are generated by highlighting disappointing or tragic circumstances. On our Facebook Page, we try to avoid these stories whenever possible, not to hide them but, instead, to instead focus on the positive and inspiring. The sad truth is that the special needs community is already well aware of how far society has to go in order to be truly inclusive, which is one of the core reasons MyChild was founded in the first place. Today, though, we want to celebrate some recent news stories that reveal how special needs awareness is growing and that the near future may be brighter than we ever thought!
Our first story involves toys. While you may not initially put much stock into the idea of toys being a marker for social change, the truth is they are! Children learn much about the world and society through the toys they play with; just as parents worry about children playing with toy guns or weapons, they also worry about the message sent when a toy only comes in one race or is aimed at a specific gender. That’s why the introduction of toys that highlight special needs in children is so important! LEGO recently made news by including a mini-figure in a wheelchair as a part of its upcoming playset, following the momentum created by the #ToyLikeMe campaign that also inspired a unique line of dolls that attempts to break down barriers surrounding disability. We firmly believe that play is valuable and when children are able to do so with characters of all different abilities and looks, stigmas begin to erode. For more information on LEGO, the line of dolls and the value of play, visit our blog post on the story here.
The second story showing special needs awareness is headed in the right direction involves shopping. While shopping can often be a respite or escape for parents to get out of the house, many parents don’t have that luxury. Looking to solve the challenge associated with using a shopping cart while maneuvering a wheelchair, Caroline’s Cart represents a bridge. Made to fit individuals up to 250 pounds, the carts feature a larger seat facing the parent and include handles and brakes to help parents and caregivers alike. Target made news in early 2015 by doing a test run of these carts in some of their stores but made even bigger news recently, announcing the carts will be available in nearly every one of their stores starting in March of this year. This is an extremely forward-thinking and proactive effort on the part of Target, acknowledging that those with special needs can require care even when they’re older (and bigger). Parents have been elated by the news and we’re thrilled by the indication that retailers are willing to invest in parents and caregivers while acknowledging the very real, human elements associated with the special needs community. For more information on Caroline’s Cart and Target’s big announcement, you can view our blog post on the news here.
Our final item is more about products and research but was welcome news to members of our community: tools to make mealtime easier for a child with special needs. Winner of a design competition aimed at improving the standards of living of individuals with physical and/or mental disabilities, the S’up Spoon helps reduce spilling by those with grip, tremor or dexterity concerns. Products like those from EazyHold, EasieEaters and others similarly look to tackle the utensil challenge, with a wide assortment of options covered in our blog post here. Mass availability of these devices marks a change from forcing parents and advocates constructing their own, inferior home-made solutions and, instead, grabbing on to something that works (literally). Such development and focus only comes from an awareness that a need exists in the marketplace.
While each of these stories or concepts may alone seem minor, we feel they represent a significant shift in thinking that humanizes the special needs community and recognizes their challenges as problems worth solving. Rest assured, someone is listening and they’re finally paying attention to us! Our hope is that this momentum continues in the months and years to come and that society continues to better understand the challenges those with Cerebral Palsy, and their loved ones, face.
For more information on adaptive equipment, resources aimed to help children with CP, or to see how we can help your family, contact us today by calling (800) 692-4453 or fill out our online form.