Caroline’s Cart pushes people forward

Retailers need to do more to accommodate parents whose children have mental disabilities.

by Keelia Moeller

Ramps, elevators, wheelchairs and electric scooters all make life more accessible for those who have physical disabilities. But when it comes to improving accessibility and making everyday tasks a little easier, the parents of children who have mental disabilities haven’t benefitted from as many initiatives to help them out.
Maneuvering a shopping cart and a stroller with an older child in it can be impossible for one person. While most grocery stores have traditional shopping carts with a built-in seat for younger children, this does not cater to the needs of larger or older children who still need supervision. As a result, parents with older children must either hire a babysitter or bring someone with them to the grocery store to help them push a wheelchair.
Caroline’s Cart was designed to change that, with a seat attached to the shopping cart that can hold up to 250 pounds.
Built by Drew Ann Long, whose 15-year old daughter Caroline has Rett Syndrome, the cart is meant to make grocery shopping an easier task for those whose children have physical or mental disabilities.  
Before Caroline’s Cart, adequate accessibility measures just didn’t exist. 
Smaller grocery stores, like Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, Publix and Kroger, are already utilizing Caroline’s Cart. Cub Foods also implemented the carts in all its Minnesota stores last year. Even bigger headlines came when Target announced earlier last week that, starting March 19, it would use the cart in 1,782 of its stores. 
However, Caroline’s Cart will not be available at all Target locations and is also only available in select Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods and Publix stores. To further accommodate parents, each individual retailer should publicize whether it provides Caroline’s Carts. That way, parents of children with mental or physical disabilities can plan on which location they should visit. 
Target is an enormously popular company, and it will have a large client base that will find Caroline’s Cart useful. To further increase community accessibility, bigger department stores like Walmart should also utilize the cart because they have large client bases too.
Finally, shopping malls ought to consider making Caroline’s Cart available for rent at the same kiosks where guests can currently find wheelchairs or scooters.
In general, providing more accessibility measures to families of children with mental or physical disabilities needs to be a higher priority. 
Communities could begin implementing larger swing seats on more playgrounds in order to cater to older children who have disabilities. These swings already exist in many playgrounds today, but the law does not always require them.
It’s crucial that we begin recognizing and accommodating people with all sorts of disabilities, just as much as we accommodate those who have physical ones. Their lives don’t need unnecessary burdens, and even the smallest things can make a positive difference for them. 
Keelia Moeller welcomes comments at [email protected].