Life

Trolley ‘makes huge difference' to special needs families

A new shopping trolley from a Northern Ireland manufacturer is making a genuine difference in the lives of families with special needs. Jenny Lee finds out more

Daniel, Charlie and Claire Smyth enjoying a trip to the supermarket. Also pictured is Jean Cardy, Community Champion at Tesco Knocknagoney

WHILE doing the weekly supermarket shop is taken for granted by so many, for families who have children with special needs it's an extreme challenge or an impossible trip.

But thanks to a new invention being rolled out in supermarkets across Northern Ireland being part of the grocery shop is a dream come true for many children.

The GoTo Shop Trolley comes with a secure five point harness, padded seat and open front for easy transfer and is suitable for children up to 35kg, approximately 10 years old.

It is the latest invention from Firefly by Leckey, the Lisburn-based manufacturer which has transformed lives for disabled children and their families across the world with the now famous Upsee walking harness.

More than 1,500 specially adapted shopping trolleys are currently or in the process of being made available in supermarkets across Northern Ireland and Britain including Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury's and Dunnes.

Unfortunately there is a lot of demand for such a trolley seat, which will benefit children with a range of conditions including cerebral palsy, spina bifida, spinal muscular atrophy, down syndrome and autism spectrum disorders.

Many local mums have been campaigning in-store and online for their local supermarkets to offer the adapted trolleys and are now enjoying the opportunity of a stress-free shopping experience.

One such mum is Louise Watson, from Bangor whose five-year-old daughter Bethany has a rare genetic condition. She says the importance of the new shopping trolley cannot be underestimated.

“For parents of disabled children, it is the little things that make a big difference. Shopping used to be such a stressful experience for me but the new trolley makes a genuine difference," Louise says.

“It's great to see that supermarkets across Northern Ireland and beyond are recognising the vital need for these trolleys. I asked my local supermarket to offer the trolley and they were very obliging so I would encourage families to ask their local stores and join the #everysupermarket campaign.”

Another family benefitting from the GoTo Shop Trolley are the Smyths from Newtownards.

“This trolley is much needed and a real game changer for families, making shopping not just possible but enjoyable too," says Claire whose seven-year-old son Daniel has an undiagnosed genetic condition, presenting as severe global developmental delay and low muscle tone. Daniel needs additional support for sitting, so even as a toddler, it wasn't safe for him to sit in a shopping trolley.

"Often we had to do our shopping online, but I prefer to go into the store and choose my own bits and pieces. Plus shopping, especially as a carer, is a social experience," Claire adds.

"I like Daniel to be out and about in our community and when we go to our local shopping centre people would stop and speak to us. Before the GoTo Shop Trolley it was case of bringing Daniel in his wheelchair and carry what I could manage in a basket hanging over my arm."

 

Claire sent a letter and a leaflet she downloaded form theFirefly campaign website to her local store as well as join the online #EverySupermarket social media campaign and encourages others to do the same if the trolleys aren't available in their area.

Daniel's first time in the shopping trolley will always hold special memories for his mum and five-year-old brother Charlie, who helped push him.

"Daniel loved it and for him to be face to face with me was really special. There was lots of interaction and I was getting really good eye contact.

And had he a favourite aisle?

"Anything with nice bright colours in it. I think the toy aisle just beat the fruit and veg area," laughs Claire.

:: The GoTo Shop Trolley Campaign is about the special needs community working together to tell every supermarket about the difference a GoTo Shop Trolley can make. For more information on how to get involved visit http://community.fireflyfriends.com/campaigns/supermarket-trolley-seat. To find out the stores where the trolleys are located visit www.Fireflyfinder.com

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