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This woman compared stroller shopping to wheelchair shopping. What she found wasn't great.

Are these chairs on wheels really that different? Liz says yes.

Meet Amanda Berns. She's a caring mother to two small children and the loving daughter of a wonderful father named David LeSueur.

Amanda poses with her family. Photo via Amanda Berns.


David is a kind and optimistic man who navigates the world in a wheelchair because of multiple sclerosis.

Amanda's children are 18 months and 2.5 years old, so it probably comes as no surprise that Amanda spends most of her days pushing these two around the city in a stroller.

Upon reading the definitions for "wheelchair" and "stroller," I started to feel like they weren't really all that different.

They are both described as chairs on wheels, just intended for different people. Because I write about inclusion in retail and assistive devices, I thought it would be interesting to ask both Amanda and her dad, David, a series of questions — the exact same questions. When I posed them to Amanda, I used the word "stroller." With her father, I used "wheelchair."

Images via iStock.

My goal was to learn about what it's like to shop for these chairs on wheels. Here's how the conversation went:

Q: What's it like to navigate the world with a chair on wheels?

Amanda (stroller): It's not too bad. I go most places that I would like with two kids. There are a lot of places I can't get in or couldn't go to — but honestly I wouldn't want to bring my toddlers anyway. Sometimes it's awkward to go into places and feel like you are blocking everyone (because let's be honest — you are). But I figure I have to run errands with my kids just like the rest of the world. So I try to be kind and patient and not too annoying.

David (wheelchair): When you're in a wheelchair, people don't talk to you, generally. They treat you like you are a child. They talk to the person with you rather than talking to you. Like when walking into a restaurant to be seated, they ask the person with you how many are in the party. Or the check gets brought to someone else at the table instead of you. I can get in all public buildings, but going to people's houses is always tricky. I have to figure out beforehand if I can do it. I don't want to bother if it's not possible.

Q: How many chairs on wheels have you owned?

Amanda (stroller): I have owned ... eight? I think? Way more than I should admit.

David (wheelchair): I have owned two power chairs, one manual wheelchair, and a scooter.

Q: Why did you purchase separate ones?

Amanda (stroller): I purchased separate ones to account for different needs. I had a jogging stroller, a get-around-town stroller, an umbrella stroller for traveling. And then we had our second kid, so I needed to get a double stroller. I also bought and sold a few strollers because I had changed my mind after using them. I had a jogging stroller with a fixed wheel for two weeks and changed my mind. I got really good at buying and selling them on Craigslist.

David (wheelchair): I purchased separate ones because in each case I became weaker and needed more features. My wheelchair had to adapt to my changing abilities.

I was most struck by what they each had to say about their options when they shopped for a chair on wheels.

Amanda's response gave me a very clear picture of who she is as a person and a parent. David's response, on the other hand, left me having learned nothing about his personality and lifestyle.

It felt like Amanda was able to express herself through her purchases, but David was only able to express that he was simply a person who requires the assistance and the support of a wheelchair.

Amanda's stroller shopping narrative fits within the norm of any retail experience.

Amanda has bought and sold strollers on Craigslist. She has gone to run errands and has come home equipped with a new, store-bought stroller. I'm sure she's received at least one stroller through a baby registry. There's probably an entangled web of stroller hand-me-downs that weave her friends and family together.

Amanda and her two children at the beach. Photo provided by Amanda Berns.

Amanda anticipated that each of her children would rely on a stroller for about four years, but she also said that shopping for the chairs on wheels was really easy: "Pop into any baby store and voila!"

David's narrative, on the other hand, does not fit into a normal retail experience.

David and his grandchild. Photo via Amanda Berns.

"Insurance pays for one wheelchair every five years," David told me. "So you try to think of things you may need over the next five-year period."

This is difficult because David's disease progresses quickly. He also mentioned that ordering a wheelchair is a very slow process. "From the time we start shopping to the time I actually get my chair, it takes four to six months," he said. "And there's not much of a reason for the delay. I think there's not much competition in the wheelchair business, so they don't have any reason to rush it."

My curiosity about the assistive device market can feel confusing at times, but it turns out that this is a big problem.

When I first started thinking about why there are so few options for people with disabilities, I thought it was because so few of us exist. But in reality, our numbers are massive. At any given moment, 1 billion people on the planet have a disability. For some of us, the disability will be temporary. For others, it will change our lives.

A few years ago, the U.S. Department of Commerce published a study that stated two-thirds of the leading assistive device manufacturers were “passive in their pursuit of new ideas — or not interested at all."

This means that the companies who make products for people with disabilities do not invest in the research and development of new products.

It's my dream to change this problem.

I don't believe that I have the best idea in the world. I just have one of the only ideas out there, and it's for J.Crew to start selling stylish canes. I'd love to hear your ideas, too.

Me with my purple cane. I have spent the past 16 months asking J.Crew if they would sell a cane. It has been my goal, from day one, to ease the stigma of assistive devices.

Amanda deserves a lifetime of joy and ease. Amanda deserves to express herself in any way she sees fit. And so does her dad.

Where is the wheelchair that invites David to be looked at? That grants him the validity to say he's picking up the lunch check?

Some of the stigma lies in our perceptions of those living with disabilities. But I also believe some of the stigma lies in the design of the products we're using, too.

Amanda and her family in San Francisco. Photo via Amanda Berns.

If you think equipment for the disabled should be as diverse as their needs are, why not share this and start a conversation?

Leah Menzies/TikTok

Leah Menzies had no idea her deceased mother was her boyfriend's kindergarten teacher.

When you start dating the love of your life, you want to share it with the people closest to you. Sadly, 18-year-old Leah Menzies couldn't do that. Her mother died when she was 7, so she would never have the chance to meet the young woman's boyfriend, Thomas McLeodd. But by a twist of fate, it turns out Thomas had already met Leah's mom when he was just 3 years old. Leah's mom was Thomas' kindergarten teacher.

The couple, who have been dating for seven months, made this realization during a visit to McCleodd's house. When Menzies went to meet his family for the first time, his mom (in true mom fashion) insisted on showing her a picture of him making a goofy face. When they brought out the picture, McLeodd recognized the face of his teacher as that of his girlfriend's mother.

Menzies posted about the realization moment on TikTok. "Me thinking my mum (who died when I was 7) will never meet my future boyfriend," she wrote on the video. The video shows her and McLeodd together, then flashes to the kindergarten class picture.

“He opens this album and then suddenly, he’s like, ‘Oh my God. Oh my God — over and over again,” Menzies told TODAY. “I couldn’t figure out why he was being so dramatic.”

Obviously, Menzies is taking great comfort in knowing that even though her mother is no longer here, they can still maintain a connection. I know how important it was for me to have my mom accept my partner, and there would definitely be something missing if she wasn't here to share in my joy. It's also really incredible to know that Menzies' mother had a hand in making McLeodd the person he is today, even if it was only a small part.

@speccylee

Found out through this photo in his photo album. A moment straight out of a movie 🥲

♬ iris - 🫶

“It’s incredible that that she knew him," Menzies said. "What gets me is that she was standing with my future boyfriend and she had no idea.”

Since he was only 3, McLeodd has no actual memory of Menzies' mother. But his own mother remembers her as “kind and really gentle.”

The TikTok has understandably gone viral and the comments are so sweet and positive.

"No the chills I got omggg."

"This is the cutest thing I have watched."

"It’s as if she remembered some significance about him and sent him to you. Love fate 😍✨"

In the caption of the video, she said that discovering the connection between her boyfriend and her mom was "straight out of a movie." And if you're into romantic comedies, you're definitely nodding along right now.

Menzies and McLeodd made a follow-up TikTok to address everyone's positive response to their initial video and it's just as sweet. The young couple sits together and addresses some of the questions they noticed pop up. People were confused that they kept saying McLeodd was in kindergarten but only 3 years old when he was in Menzies' mother's class. The couple is Australian and Menzies explained that it's the equivalent of American preschool.

They also clarified that although they went to high school together and kind of knew of the other's existence, they didn't really get to know each other until they started dating seven months ago. So no, they truly had no idea that her mother was his teacher. Menzies revealed that she "didn't actually know that my mum taught at kindergarten."

"I just knew she was a teacher," she explained.

She made him act out his reaction to seeing the photo, saying he was "speechless," and when she looked at the photo she started crying. McLeodd recognized her mother because of the pictures Menzies keeps in her room. Cue the "awws," because this is so cute, I'm kvelling.

A simple solution for all ages, really.

School should feel like a safe space. But after the tragic news of yet another mass shooting, many children are scared to death. As a parent or a teacher, it can be an arduous task helping young minds to unpack such unthinkable monstrosities. Especially when, in all honesty, the adults are also terrified.

Katelyn Campbell, a clinical psychologist in South Carolina, worked with elementary school children in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook shooting. She recently shared a simple idea that helped then, in hopes that it might help now.

The psychologist tweeted, “We had our kids draw pictures of scenery that made them feel calm—we then hung them up around the school—to make the ‘other kids who were scared’ have something calm to look at.”



“Kids, like adults, want to feel helpful when they feel helpless,” she continued, saying that drawing gave them something useful to do.

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It can be hard to find hope in hard times, but we have examples of humanity all around us.

I almost didn't create this post this week.

As the U.S. reels from yet another horrendous school massacre, barely on the heels of the Buffalo grocery store shooting and the Laguna Woods church shooting reminding us that gun violence follows us everywhere in this country, I find myself in a familiar state of anger and grief and frustration. One time would be too much. Every time, it's too much. And yet it keeps happening over and over and over again.

I've written article after article about gun violence. I've engaged in every debate under the sun. I've joined advocacy groups, written to lawmakers, donated to organizations trying to stop the carnage, and here we are again. Round and round we go.

It's hard not to lose hope. It would be easy to let the fuming rage consume every bit of joy and calm and light that we so desperately want and need. But we have to find a balance.

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