Audrey Rouleau’s son, Zachary, is always smiling.
The 12-year-old lives with Phelan-McDermid Syndrome and rarely has a bad day – but in a shopping centre, Rouleau constantly worries he might wander off with a stranger.
“Just getting groceries, it’s complicated,” she explained.
To make life easier, Rouleau worked with Stephanie Leclerc, whose daughter, Sarah, also has special needs, to bring adapted shopping carts to Quebec.
“She can run around, run away. She can go with any kind of stranger because she has no sense of danger at all,” Leclerc said.
“She likes to grab things off shelves and throw them on the floor.”
Running simple errands requires “making a schedule with another parent or hiring a babysitter,” explained Rouleau.
A couple years ago, both women came across Caroline’s Cart, which was invented in the U.S. by a woman whose daughter has special needs.
Since then, the two mothers have been writing to Quebec stores and asking them to purchase Caroline’s Cart.
The secure seat is adapted to fit in a shopping cart and can hold up to 250 lbs.
Leclerc said knowing stores will have adapted carts is a relief.
“I don’t have to think, ‘who will stay home with my girl when I need to go get milk?'” she told Global News.
Caroline’s Cart has been popular in the U.S. and other provinces in Canada, but had not yet arrived in Quebec.
“It needs to come from the customers,” Leclerc explained.
Walmart responded to their lobbying effort and confirmed it will soon have Caroline’s Carts in all its Quebec City stores.
“We try to create an environment that’s stress-free,” said Michel Arruda, assistant manager at the Lebourgneuf Walmart.
“When you always have your kids on your mind, you don’t have the facility or the time to do your shopping.”
Fifteen other stores have also brought in the carts, including three in Greater Montreal.
“This is inclusion,” said Leclerc.
“We know that there are many families out there everywhere in the province that need those carts, so we want them to know that it exists.”