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Caregivers to physically disabled pre-teen children are getting a break when they go grocery shopping.
Being the first store in Franklin County to get one of the innovative carts, Kroger management says it hopes the purchase will spark a trend to have other businesses take a step forward and offer the specialty carts to their customers.
Franklin resident Vanessa Holland has a handicapped son, Cain, and has had to deal with the rigors of handling him when she has gone shopping.
In May 2009, Cain became afflicted with a dramatic brain injury.
At age 7, he is just now re-learning how to say the simplest of words — “momma, yes, daddy” and other typical initial statements.
“A friend knew the difficulty I was facing, having to wait ’til Cain went to sleep just to go grocery shopping because a lot of people can’t help him when it comes to his disability while he is awake,” Holland said.
She said the hardest part about their situation is grocery shopping.
Holland said she was aware of a product on the market for such special needs called “Caroline’s Cart.”
She approached the store where she shopped, Kroger, to see if it could obtain a Caroline’s Cart.
Now, not only does Franklin County’s Kroger have one, other stores in the chain have stepped up to add them to their cart inventory.
The carts provide parents and caregivers an option to transport a child through a store while grocery shopping without simultaneously having to maneuver a wheelchair and a traditional grocery cart.
It is named after “Caroline,” the special needs daughter of Drew Ann and David Long, founders of Parent Solution Group LLC, based in Newton, N.C.
Mrs. Long said she saw the need for Caroline’s Cart after realizing her daughter would outgrow a typical shopping cart.
After years of frustration, she founded Parent Solution Group LLC, which designed the cart, applied for a patent and enlisted the services of legal and business professionals to help market it.
Retailers, such as supermarkets, hypermarkets, shopping centers and malls, offering Caroline’s Carts will provide a valuable service to the families of more than 1 million severely disabled children in the United States, Mrs. Long said.
The Longs’ vision is to have the carts recognized as the preeminent shopping cart for special needs children in the nation and internationally.
“I have optimism that one day all retailers will provide an equal opportunity shopping experience for parents and caregivers of special needs children by furnishing them the option of a Caroline’s Cart,” Mrs. Long said. “All families deserve to have this option, so they can enjoy the freedom of shopping with their special needs child.”
Many stores have the option of carts that look like racecars, but these grocery carts do not provide the support and safety all children may need, Mrs. Long said. Caroline’s Cart has been specifically designed for those with special needs, she added.
The handles swing back and forth to provide easy access to the seat. The seat tilts for increased comfort and support for occupants with low muscle tone and it faces the caregiver
There is also a five-point adjustable harness to buckle the child/adult into the seat for added safety.
The bottom of the cart has a solid surface for full support of their feet and for storage of merchandise. There are also side mounted basket hooks for extra carrying capacity.
Kroger manager Jasen Staton said he’s happy to add the cart to make shopping easier.
“The cart will make a great difference in our customer base,” he said.
Holland echoed his enthusiasm.
“I’m relieved that one of the stores in my hometown is willing to go above and beyond to please their customers,” she said.
Staton said it took about eight weeks to receive the cart, but the waiting was minimal, compared to the cart’s benefit to shoppers.
“We are very glad it came in such a short time,” he said.
Holland said she plans to be a loyal customer to the store because of the effort management made to accommodate her situation.