Everyone has the power to inspire change – even the smallest of voices. Since the birth of our son, Noah, three years ago, I have found myself constantly advocating not only on his behalf, but on the behalf of all that have “special needs.” Noah did not breathe for the first thirteen minutes of life and as a result has quadriplegia cerebral palsy. I won’t lie this journey isn’t easy, but it’s not the end of things either. Life goes on – it just goes on a bit differently. Having a birds-eye view of life with a child that faces significant physical challenges has given me a whole set of obstacles to overcome. For instance I can’t just put Noah in a shopping cart and go to the grocery store. I learned of a product called Caroline’s Cart, a cart that accommodates very small children and even adults in a special supported grocery cart, enabling parents and children or adults with handicap caregivers to shop just like the rest of the world does. You likely have never seen a Caroline’s Cart, because most vendors refuse to carry them. However, I’ve written letters, contacted businesses, and even spoken directly to managers to be a voice for those like Noah and families like ours. Change won’t happen if you stand on the sidelines and do nothing. Change takes action, it takes a voice – sometimes even a face with that voice. It’s so much harder to say no to someone in person. No, I haven’t been successful in obtaining Caroline’s Cart anywhere in our state, but that doesn’t mean it will never happen. Giving up is not an option. You can never give up when it comes to creating change.
Sometimes people aren’t even aware that change needs to happen until you speak up. We recently took Noah to a Christmas event at a place called the Butterfly Pavilion. It has a private lot, and even a parking attendant to accommodate cars for a larger event. However, when we got there we realized that every single handicap parking space and even the van loading access spots next to the handicap spaces were taken by non-handicapped vehicles. My first instinct was to just go away quietly, thinking yet just another example of how we can’t fit into a regular world, but then I thought long and hard – I can’t turn my back on change – what would that teach our children. Defeat is not an option when life throws you a lemon. I contacted the business via email explained the parking dilemma and problems, and received a favorable response and apology for the parking situation. They did not know it was a problem and they implemented action to change it. But it took my voice to bring it to their attention.
Change can be small or it can be big, but regardless we all have the power to make the world a better place for all that are in it. Don’t be afraid to speak up for what you know in your heart is right. Be the change you want to see. The difference just one person can make can be enormous.
“You must be the change you want to see in the world.” Mahatma Gandhi
References: Caroline’s Cart ““ http://www.carolinescart.com
By: Stacy Warden
Author of Noah’s Miracle: http://www.noahsmiracle.blogspot.com