Parents of special needs children can shop with more ease at the Steubenville Walmart Supercenter, thanks to the addition of a Caroline’s Cart.

    It all began in July when the store announced that it was offering sensory hours for back-to-school shopping in an online post. Steubenville resident Mindy Aleksiejczyk, the mother of a special needs child, commented about adding the carts and said officials quickly responded.

   “They reached out and asked about the carts, and I told them they were for families with special needs children. It’s a special shopping cart designed by a parent with a special needs child who has mobility issues and it has an adult-type seat. My son’s in a wheelchair and I can put in him the cart,” she explained. “I told them there were families who have children with mobility issues and this would help.”

   She said she originally had to shop using a basket because it was awkward to push a wheelchair and a cart simultaneously. Additionally, she had to utilize the outdoor pickup for items and had to seek parking spots with ramp access. The Caroline’s Cart alleviates those restrictions and can also be used by older children who no longer fit in the traditional cart, as well as adults with mobility issues. According to the Caroline’s Cart website, the product was created by Parent Solution LLC founder Drew Ann Long and named for her daughter, Caroline, as a means to help other parents and caregivers transport their child more easily in a store. It was made available to retailers from supermarkets to shopping malls and enables the children to participate in mainstream society. The cart will serve the families of more than 1 million special needs children across the United States and give the kids an equal opportunity shopping experience.

  Aleksiejczyk, who also operates the Special Needs Parents Support in the Ohio Valley Facebook page and is a board member of the Jefferson County Board of Developmental Disabilities, was thankful for the store’s quick action and said it has generated much excitement among impacted parents.

  “There are so many families who are grateful for this because there might be children who walk a little or not at all. I didn’t think there was going to be so much excitement about it. You can shop with the children and have life be a little bit easier.”

  Walmart officials said they were glad to help alleviate concerns so more families can shop together.

  “We are committed to providing a convenient and enjoyable shopping experience for all customers. We actively seek input from both associates and customers to improve our service and better serve our customers and communities. We are proud to offer a range of accessible shopping options, including the Caroline’s Cart, motorized carts and online shopping through Walmart Pickup and Delivery, which are available at all stores nationwide,” said Kelsey Bohl, senior manager of corporate communications for Walmart. “Caroline’s Cart is a particularly innovative solution for customers with special needs and their caregivers, providing a more comfortable and stress-free shopping experience. Stores can currently order the Caroline’s Cart to ensure that all customers have the best possible shopping experience.”