October 18, 2017 Edition

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Walmart adds specialized cart

Walmart Manager Kari Shanks (right) and Jennifer Lewis of Walnut Ridge show a new specialized shopping cart that is adapted to help shoppers who are caring for children or adults with special needs. Lewis' daughter, Preslee, who turned three in August, was the first to try out the new cart.

Gretchen Hunt

Walmart in Walnut Ridge has added a new specialized cart to help shoppers who are accompanied by children or adults with special needs.

Jennifer Lewis of Walnut Ridge approached Manager Kari Shanks about the carts, known as Caroline's Carts, as she struggled to shop with her three-year-old daughter, Preslee.

Preslee, who was affected by Cytomegalovirus (CMV) while in the womb, has brain damage, bilateral hearing loss, cortical visual impairment, seizure disorder and spastic quad cerebral palsy.

When shopping, she was unable to push Preslee's wheel chair and a cart, so she had to lay her down in the small section intended for a child to sit in, which was really not adequate space.

"I showed them (Walmart employees) how Preslee had to lay while shopping," Lewis said. "I believe it opened their eyes to the everyday struggles of being a parent to a child with disabilities."

She said she was proud to be in a community that cares, first with the addition of a swing for children with disabilities at the park, and now with the new cart being available.

"I'm so proud of our town," she said. "It's little things to most, but it's huge for us!"

The new cart will accommodate individuals from 35 to 250 pounds. Shanks said they are pleased to be able to offer the cart to those in need, but reminds others that the handicap plaque on the cart should be respected just as a handicap parking spot is respected.

"This cart is for our disabled patrons," she said. "We want the public to know it is available."

She encouraged those who need to use the cart to call the store ahead of time and an associate will meet them in front of the store.

Lewis said she tries to raise awareness of needs, as well as what is available to help meet those needs, and having a community that will respond is amazing.

"It's a blessing," she said.

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