Sunday, March 22, 2015

Moving a Grain of Sand

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Ever sit and watch a tiny ant carry a grain of sand?  So small, and often double their size they dream big.  That one small ant's giant efforts at first seem so insignificant.  A lonely ant with a heavy load on it's back it keeps moving forward, even if it drops the grain of sand it picks it right back up.  It never gets discouraged, it never stops, it never quits.   That little ant is making a difference building a community one grain of sand at a time.  It knows that others depend upon it's action to succeed.  So it carries on.  No matter how hard, or how impossible the task at hand seems.  That one little ant with it's grain of sand.

We all can learn so much from that tiny ant's determination. 

A little over three years ago I wrote a guest blog about a new product that had been developed called Caroline's Cart.  A grocery cart designed for those with disabilities to be able to shop with their caregiver without needing to push both a wheelchair and grocery cart at the same time.

I encouraged as many people as I could find to advocate for this much needed product in stores, print out the campaign packet, ask managers and owners in person, call to follow up.  Remind them the special needs community deserved an opportunity to shop easier, and in turn gain loyal and grateful customers.  Sounded easy right?  Not so much.  It's easy to turn a deaf ear when special needs grocery carts are not in high demand.  We are often a very small population in comparison to the needs of able-bodied shoppers.  Businesses not often willing to assume the investment - even if that meant that those with special needs couldn't comfortably shop at their establishments.   Many managers willingly listened, seemed interested, acted in fact like they'd really consider it, but in the end would say they didn't have the funding to support not even one grocery cart.  

But Caroline's Cart was met with lots of demand from all over the country.   And slowly the cart was integrated into some stores gaining in popularity.   It was working.  The special needs community was being successful in their requests.   And finally after all the asking I had done, I too was able to score my first Caroline's Cart victory.  

Because Noah is so medically fragile we do our best to feed him healthy and organically to give his brain the best chances of development and recovery.  (Not a financially easy thing to do) but nothing about having a special needs child is financially easy.  I focused my efforts on where I most needed the Caroline's Cart.  Whole Foods. 

Within the first two days of putting in my request, I received a lovely message back from the manager saying that they would be honored to obtain a Caroline's Cart to assist those with special needs like Noah.    All those years of my requests being turned down by so many other businesses and finally the first yes!   Costco said no, Walmart said no... but Whole Foods was a glowing yes!
Checking out onions and potatoes
Noah picking out items he wanted in the basket
And they were so fast about ordering keeping me updated along the way so I knew when to expect it's arrival.  And it arrived right on time, a Tuesday afternoon a picture of it sent to my email notifying me of it's arrival.  Inside the doors, sitting next to an apple display - waiting for Noah.   And so we all went to Whole Foods to shop as a family and for the first time in 6 years Noah was able to shop comfortably in a shopping cart.  

Noah spotting his favorite food pouches on the shelf... his expression was golden
I know you can't imagine what those moments in life are like if you don't have a child like Noah, but it's a lot like the feeling of being able to do things just like everyone else can - for special needs effects the entire family unit.   Noah loved the Caroline's Cart.  I did take the Snuggin Go Too (a supportive product we use in some of Noah's pediatric wheelchairs and strollers for additional trunk and head support) it really helped as the Caroline's Cart is designed for those of all ages.   I must also give Caroline's Cart a glowing review for really easy adjustable straps when you are trying to maneuver a child who cannot sit independently while putting them in the cart.  Very nicely done with the strap adjustments.  I was impressed.  

Noah understood what we were doing - we were shopping with him and placing things in the grocery cart.  Just like we do with his little brother.  He laughed and smiled at others.  He looked at produce at a level like we all would.   He was stimulated, interested and engaged in the world around him.  So much different from being confined to your wheelchair being pushed behind a large bulky cart. 

And I finally felt like the little ant in me had finally accomplished what I was supposed to do with my grain of sand.  I made a difference.  Not just for Noah, but all those like him.   And I'm far from done, because I'm going to just pick up another grain of sand and keep going.  This time I have my sights set on the campaign Space for Change.   The UK has hundreds of adequate changing spaces for those with special needs.  We have none.  It's about time we focused some energy on proper changing accommodations so we are not forced to change our children on urine soaked bathroom floors.   And it might take me three years to move my next grain of sand too, but I'll keep marching forward, with the same determination and grit knowing the dream is in sight.


Noah's Miracle by Stacy Warden is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.