Thursday, April 14, 2011

Strollers Are Just Wheel Chairs For Babies

Did I catch your attention yet?

This is an image from an episode of Glee. Artie (pictured right) is a wheelchair-bound member of McKinley High's Glee Club. Because of his disability, Glee needed a wheelchair accessable bus to get to a singing competition. Mr. Schuester required the remaining able-bodied Glee kids to be wheel chair bound to sympathize with Artie's struggles.

What does this have to do with strollers?
Any mom with a stroller should be able to sympathize with Artie.

Most moms in America have/had a stroller. Personally, I have 3: a double jogger, a single Graco, and a double Graco. No, it's not a collection - they each serve a purpose. Moms of multiple young children will agree! I take my strollers everywhere, and there is one thing that always baffles me: if I struggle maneuvering my stroller through a department store (a restaurant, the post office, 7-11 - the list is long), then how do wheelchair bound people maneuver through the same obstacles? It's almost infuriating, pushing a stroller through a store -  knocking into every display, having to back-up 10 ft because I can't go through, leaving my children in the center aisle so I can run to look at a price...and don't get me started on public restrooms.

According to the U.S. Census (circa 2002), only about 1% of our population uses wheelchairs. Surprisingly, that number is about the same worldwide. The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, provides guidelines to ensure equivalent services and protection to those with disabilities: including protecting equal access to public services.  So why is my stroller stuck inbetween the display for flannel nightgowns and Spanx with a training bra strap wrapped around my front two wheels, and Houston's head lost somewhere in a too-low hanging rack of triple D boulder holders....what now Kohls??

Sure, 7-11 only has 6 parking spaces, with 2 dedicated  to handi-cap access, and a woman SKIPPING out of her car with a disability plaque hanging from her rear-view mirror. We've all seen the morbidly obese person occupying the Wal-Mart courtesy motorized scooters and wondered how a little walking might help. But what about the 1% that really needs the access? The 1% that is stuck in the women's lingerie section in Kohls?

As always, I believe in a call to action. Why? Because we were given the gift of mobility. Our strollers should be a reminder to the 1% of disabled people worldwide that cannot simply leave their wheelchair in the center aisle so they can do a price check on bedroom linens, or open a door without doing a choreographed dance in order to get through.

I don't expect anyone to run out and call their congressman or write to Kohl's demanding less racks of "great deals" so that the 1% can get through the aisles. What I do ask, is that you put the thought in the back of your brain so that next time someone asks you to sign a proposed bill for wheelchair access, or donate to a wheelchair charity - you think of your stroller - and you open up your wallet, or pull out your pen, and GIVE.

Life is too short and too wonderful to simply ignore 1%. It doesn't take much to change your world and theirs.

Happy Strolling!

To read the report from the US Census, please click here.

To read a controversial article about proposed bans on strollers, click here.

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  1. One of my good friends is in a wheelchair and it aggravates me too, but doesn't seem to bother him; he is used to it. His sister and I go on rampages about it and how not everything is accessible to him but what can we do about it? Go around suing people for not being ADA compliant?? I dont have the time or money.
    I will take the parking space farther away to let a person park closer that needs it more than I do. I will offer help for someone that can't reach something at the grocery store (wether short or in a chair). Its simply important to know that we aren't the only one in the world and we need to pay attention to the people around us. And no, I do not feel bad for morbidly obese people. At all.

  2. Totally agree with you 100%! We all can't save the world, but we can be concious of what's going on around us and be an active particpant in the things we can change.

  3. Jess, your writing style cracks me up! I love reading your blog. Keep it up 8)