For parents of kids with special needs, Target's newest shopping cart is a game-changer.

"This simple cart literally will change how we can shop." — A very happy parent.

Everyone's favorite I-ran-in-to-buy-two-things-but-I-bought-all-the-things (because I needed them, of course!!!) store inspires love in many of our hearts.

Yesterday, Target inspired a little extra love by announcing a new shopping cart model. That's right. A cart.

This isn't your average shopping cart, though. Nope. This is just a little bit extra thoughtful.


It's called Caroline's Cart and it's designed for children and adults with disabilities.

Caroline's Cart, coming soon to a Target near you. Photo provided by Target, used with permission.

It gives parents and caregivers of individuals who are unable to walk on their own the ability to shop without having to push both a cart and a wheelchair simultaneously. The cart was designed by Drew Ann Long after she realized her daughter Caroline, who has special needs, would soon outgrow the kids' section in a traditional shopping cart, at which point she'd be left to juggle a wheelchair and a cart.

Long saw the need and knew that it was one shared by many families. She called the design Caroline's Cart, named after her daughter, and embarked on the journey of patenting, manufacturing, and getting the carts into retail stores.

The way Target became aware of Caroline's Cart is pretty cool. A Target employee who is a parent of a child with special needs brought it to the attention of the store operations team. And so commenced a wonderful journey...

Target began testing Caroline's Cart in select locations a year ago. The response was delightful.

It made many people happy, like mom Brianne Fuller and her son, who happened upon one in January.

Photo of Brianne Fuller's son, provided by Target and used with permission.

Fuller wrote:

"Shout out to the team at your Brighton, MI Target store for ordering a Caroline’s Cart. It made our evening shopping trip a breeze. . . and my son LOVES it! Please consider getting one for all of your stores, thank you!"

Adam Standiford, the dad of a 6-year-old with special needs, felt equally thrilled when he discovered a Caroline's Cart in November 2015. He posted a note to the company's Facebook page that received over 124,000 Likes and 13,000 shares:

"Dear Target,

I can't express enough how happy my wife was to see this at our local Target today. We have a 6 year old handicap girl who either doesn't fit in carts anymore or gets weird looks to as why she's sitting in the basket and can't walk like a normal child. This simple cart literally will change how we can shop, not having to worry as to how we are going to get her into a store. Every retailer in the country should follow suit! It is also quite ironic that my wife's name is Carolyn and the cart is called Caroline's cart. I will forever be Target loyal!

Sincerely,
Every parent of a special needs kid"




Feedback like that surely gave the retailer the encouragement it needed to bring these carts to all of its customers.

On March 15, 2016, Target will introduce Caroline's Carts to almost all of its retail stores.


"The vast majority of our stores (with the exception of a handful of our smallest stores where we don’t have full-size carts) will have at least one Caroline’s Cart, and many will have more, depending on their guests’ needs," the company shared on it corporate website.

I salute you, Target, because this is truly a case of listening to the needs of your customers (or guests, as you call them) and taking steps to make their shopping experiences easier and more enjoyable.

It may look like a pretty ordinary cart...

Photo provided by Target, used with permission.

...but for the families who will use it, it's extraordinary.

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Disney has come under fire for problematic portrayals of non-white and non-western cultures in many of its older movies. They aren't the only one, of course, but since their movies are an iconic part of most American kids' childhoods, Disney's messaging holds a lot of power.

Fortunately, that power can be used for good, and Disney can serve as an example to other companies if they learn from their mistakes, account for their misdeeds, and do the right thing going forward. Without getting too many hopes up, it appears that the entertainment giant may have actually done just that with the new Frozen II film.

According to NOW Toronto, the producers of Frozen II have entered into a contract with the Sámi people—the Indigenous people of the Scandinavian regions—to ensure that they portray the culture with respect.

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Though there was not a direct portrayal of the Sámi in the first Frozen movie, the choral chant that opens the film was inspired by an ancient Sámi vocal tradition. In addition, the clothing worn by Kristoff closely resembled what a Sámi reindeer herder would wear. The inclusion of these elements of Sámi culture with no context or acknowledgement sparked conversations about cultural appropriation and erasure on social media.

Frozen II features Indigenous culture much more directly, and even addressed the issue of Indigenous erasure. Filmmakers Jennifer Lee and Chris Buck, along with producer Peter Del Vecho, consulted with experts on how to do that respectfully—the experts, of course, being the Sámi people themselves.

Sámi leaders met with Disney producer Peter Del Vecho in September 2019.Sámediggi Sametinget/Flickr

The Sámi parliaments of Norway, Sweden and Finland, and the non-governmental Saami Council reached out to the filmmakers when they found out their culture would be highlighted in the film. They formed a Sámi expert advisory group, called Verddet, to assist filmmakers in with how to accurately and respectfully portray Sámi culture, history, and society.

In a contract signed by Walt Disney Animation Studios and Sámi leaders, the Sámi stated their position that "their collective and individual culture, including aesthetic elements, music, language, stories, histories, and other traditional cultural expressions are property that belong to the Sámi," and "that to adequately respect the rights that the Sámi have to and in their culture, it is necessary to ensure sensitivity, allow for free, prior, and informed consent, and ensure that adequate benefit sharing is employed."

RELATED: This aboriginal Australian used kindness and tea to trump the racism he overheard.

Disney agreed to work with the advisory group, to produce a version of Frozen II in one Sámi language, as well as to "pursue cross-learning opportunities" and "arrange for contributions back to the Sámi society."

Anne Lájla Utsi, managing director at the International Sámi Film Institute, was part of the Verddet advisory group. She told NOW, "This is a good example of how a big, international company like Disney acknowledges the fact that we own our own culture and stories. It hasn't happened before."

"Disney's team really wanted to make it right," said Utsi. "They didn't want to make any mistakes or hurt anybody. We felt that they took it seriously. And the film shows that. We in Verddet are truly proud of this collaboration."

Sounds like you've done well this time, Disney. Let's hope such cultural sensitivity and collaboration continues, and that other filmmakers and production companies will follow suit.

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