Drew Ann Long had a problem, she knew her young daughter would one day outgrow a typical shopping cart at grocery stores. This may seem like a menial issue, but for over 6 million families in the United States who have a family member with a disability, this is also a concern. Long’s daughter Caroline has Rett Syndrome and must be pushed in a wheel chair. For families with individuals with disabilities, going to a shopping center can be difficult. Pushing a wheel chair and traditional grocery cart can become increasingly difficult in a busy store.
Drew worked tirelessly on creating design that would allow her to interact with her daughter while shopping. Her result was Caroline’s Cart, a forward facing cart that broke down traditional cart barriers and allowed constant interaction. The design features a harness and handles that swivel out of the way so there is not issue lifting children into the seat. This means that caregivers or family can continue to have quality family time shopping together at grocery stores.
As of May 2014 Caroline’s Carts can be found in every state except Hawaii, Alaska and at a few chain stores such as Wegman’s and Kroger. Yet the process for requesting the carts can be fairly easy if pursued. New Jersey Mother, Amy Solecki Downey, describes her recent trip to the store as “one of the best shopping experiences I’ve had in a long time,” due to Caroline’s Cart. Her son Andrew, who is 8 years old, has been diagnosed with Angelman Syndrome which causes him to be extremely social and interactive but can’t speak.
This has been a cause of extreme stress for Downey, who is a single parent and has no choice but to take Andrew with her on her shopping expeditions. Looks of disgust from shoppers and after bedtime hour shopping trips had to stop.She’d avoid entering the check-out aisles
“I know they’re thinking ‘why is she hogging the line?’ They don’t understand,” said Downey. until the very last second so Andrew couldn’t grab at the impulse items that line the lane. But the scowls she’d get from the shoppers waiting behind her told her they weren’t happy about the big gap that she caused in the lane.
Amy learned of Caroline’s Cart through support groups and requested carts at her local ShopRite stores. After contacting the local store representative a cart was located to her local store. ShopRite manager Bob Hibbs recently accompanied Downey on a shopping trip through the Clark store. As Downey walked through the aisles, a beaming Andrew waved at the other customers. “I’m so glad that she is as happy as she is with it,” Hibbs said. “And look at the smile on his face.”
The only stories that come from using Caroline’s Carts are ones with success and happiness of all parties involved. “There isn’t one community on the planet without a child with special needs,” says Long. Hopes to get carts in every community is the end goal and they are already making their way around the world. Visit the Caroline’s Cart Facebook page to see all the personal stories and the history of the cart’s inception.