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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?

Photo courtesy of Girls at Work

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Girls are bombarded with messages from a very young age telling them that they can’t, that is too big, this is too heavy, those are too much.

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Pop Culture

14 things that will remain fun no matter how old you get

Your inner child will thank you for doing at least one of these.

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Swings can turn 80-year-olds into 8-year-olds in less that two seconds.

When we’re kids, fun comes so easily. You have coloring books and team sports and daily recess … so many opportunities to laugh, play and explore. As we get older, these activities get replaced by routine and responsibility (and yes, at times, survival). Adulthood, yuck.

Many of us want to have more fun, but making time for it still doesn’t come as easily as it did when we were kids—whether that’s because of guilt, a long list of other priorities or because we don’t feel it’s an age-appropriate thing to long for.

Luckily, we’ve come to realize that fun isn’t just a luxury of childhood, but really a vital aspect of living well—like reducing stress, balancing hormone levels and even improving relationships.

More and more people of all ages are letting their inner kids out to play, and the feelings are delightfully infectious.

You might be wanting to instill a little more childlike wonder into your own life, and not sure where to start. Never fear, the internet is here. Reddit user SetsunaSaigami asked people, “What always remains fun no matter how old you get?” People’s (surprisingly profound) answers were great reminders that no matter how complex our lives become, simple joy will always be important.

Here are 14 timeless pleasures to make you feel like a kid again:

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All images provided by Adewole Adamson

It begins with more inclusive conversations at a patient level

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Adewole Adamson, MD, of the University of Texas, Austin, aims to create more equity in health care by gathering data from more diverse populations by using artificial intelligence (AI), a type of machine learning. Dr. Adamson’s work is funded by the American Cancer Society (ACS), an organization committed to advancing health equity through research priorities, programs and services for groups who have been marginalized.

Melanoma became a particular focus for Dr. Adamson after meeting Avery Smith, who lost his wife—a Black woman—to the deadly disease.

melanoma,  melanoma for dark skin Avery Smith (left) and Adamson (sidenote)

This personal encounter, coupled with multiple conversations with Black dermatology patients, drove Dr. Adamson to a concerning discovery: as advanced as AI is at detecting possible skin cancers, it is heavily biased.

To understand this bias, it helps to first know how AI works in the early detection of skin cancer, which Dr. Adamson explains in his paper for the New England Journal of Medicine (paywall). The process uses computers that rely on sets of accumulated data to learn what healthy or unhealthy skin looks like and then create an algorithm to predict diagnoses based on those data sets.

This process, known as supervised learning, could lead to huge benefits in preventive care.

After all, early detection is key to better outcomes. The problem is that the data sets don’t include enough information about darker skin tones. As Adamson put it, “everything is viewed through a ‘white lens.’”

“If you don’t teach the algorithm with a diverse set of images, then that algorithm won’t work out in the public that is diverse,” writes Adamson in a study he co-wrote with Smith (according to a story in The Atlantic). “So there’s risk, then, for people with skin of color to fall through the cracks.”

Tragically, Smith’s wife was diagnosed with melanoma too late and paid the ultimate price for it. And she was not an anomaly—though the disease is more common for White patients, Black cancer patients are far more likely to be diagnosed at later stages, causing a notable disparity in survival rates between non-Hispanics whites (90%) and non-Hispanic blacks (66%).

As a computer scientist, Smith suspected this racial bias and reached out to Adamson, hoping a Black dermatologist would have more diverse data sets. Though Adamson didn’t have what Smith was initially looking for, this realization ignited a personal mission to investigate and reduce disparities.

Now, Adamson uses the knowledge gained through his years of research to help advance the fight for health equity. To him, that means not only gaining a wider array of data sets, but also having more conversations with patients to understand how socioeconomic status impacts the level and efficiency of care.

“At the end of the day, what matters most is how we help patients at the patient level,” Adamson told Upworthy. “And how can you do that without knowing exactly what barriers they face?”

american cancer society, skin cacner treatment"What matters most is how we help patients at the patient level."https://www.kellydavidsonstudio.com/

The American Cancer Society believes everyone deserves a fair and just opportunity to prevent, find, treat, and survive cancer—regardless of how much money they make, the color of their skin, their sexual orientation, gender identity, their disability status, or where they live. Inclusive tools and resources on the Health Equity section of their website can be found here. For more information about skin cancer, visit cancer.org/skincancer.

via Pixabay

The show must go on… and more power to her.

There are few things that feel more awful than being stranded at the altar by your spouse-to-be. That’s why people are cheering on Kayley Stead, 27, from the U.K. for turning a day of extreme disappointment into a party for her friends, family and most importantly, herself.

According to a report in The Metro, on Thursday, September 15, Stead woke up in an Airbnb with her bridemaids, having no idea that her fiance, Kallum Norton, 24, had run off early that morning. The word got to Stead’s bridesmaids at around 7 a.m. the day of the wedding.

“[A groomsman] called one of the maids of honor to explain that the groom had ‘gone.’ We were told he had left the caravan they were staying at in Oxwich Bay (the venue) at 12:30 a.m. to visit his family, who were staying in another caravan nearby and hadn’t returned. When they woke in the morning, he was not there and his car had gone,” Jordie Cullen wrote on a GoFundMe page.

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via Lewis Speaks Sr. / Facebook

This article originally appeared on 02.25.21


Middle school has to be the most insecure time in a person's life. Kids in their early teens are incredibly cruel and will make fun of each other for not having the right shoes, listening to the right music, or having the right hairstyle.

As if the social pressure wasn't enough, a child that age has to deal with the intensely awkward psychological and biological changes of puberty at the same time.

Jason Smith, the principal of Stonybrook Intermediate and Middle School in Warren Township, Indiana, had a young student sent to his office recently, and his ability to understand his feelings made all the difference.

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