"Every child should have the opportunity to do something as simple as grocery shop with their parent."
A Penticton mom is trying to add specially built shopping carts to local grocery stores, so kids of all accessibility levels can come with their parents.
Katie Van Gurp and her husband have worked to help make sure their four-year-old daughter Holland, who has quadriplegic cerebral palsy, will be able to experience everything else any other kid could do.
"We're here with OSNS [Okanagan Similkameen Neurological Society Child & Youth Development Centre] and they have made any changes possible to make things super accessible for Holland like walkways coming up to the preschool from the daycare and making sure Holland can get up," Van Gurp said.
"It's being aware that she should not be excluded from anything, any activity — shopping, going to the play park, just things like that."
Currently, if Van Gurp wants to take her daughter shopping, she'll have to bring a second person with her, since she can't push the shopping cart and her daughter's wheelchair or walker as well.
She hopes the local stores will bring in Caroline's Carts, which are specially built shopping carts that allow caregivers to bring special needs individuals out while they shop.
"So my goal is to get a couple here in Penticton because she loves being out and about with me."
It's the first ever patented special needs grocery cart for older children and adults with disabilities. The carts have front and rear brakes, and a five-point safety harness.
The idea for Caroline's Cart was born from a U.S. mother who wanted to give her daughter a fun shopping experience and make her feel included in everyday life.
Van Gurp said that it's hugely important that Holland gets to come with her.
"It's something that I should be able to do, she shouldn't have to miss out on that," she added. "She honestly absolutely loves going there and everybody loves seeing her when she goes there."
"It would be something so nice that we could just run in and do it together. But I always have to kind of figure out a plan or a way to have someone else attend with me so that we can just do something as simple as grocery shopping."
Van Gurp's first step is taking letters to the local Superstore and Walmart, asking them to add even just one cart to their collection.
"I just thought, at least with somewhere to start, I thought those would be a good avenue. I'd love to see them everywhere. But I thought this would be a good starting point."
She's also hoping that the community could help come up with ideas for a fundraiser for the carts since they are estimated at costing upwards of $1000.
"Please help me make this dream happen of having a couple of these carts available, making it inclusive for all children to be able to grocery shop with their parents."
If you've got ideas on how to help Van Gurp fundraise or support her initiative, send her an email at [email protected]