A new blog and Facebook site address the needs of parents in wheelchairs
The challenges of using a wheelchair didn’t deter Shannon Klann, of Garden City, Mich., from becoming a mother of three. But raising kids while in a wheelchair is no small feat, says Klann, who has Friedreich’s ataxia and has wanted to be a mother since childhood.
While pregnant with their firstborn, Jared (now 10), Klann and her husband, Chris, began an extensive search for information on how parents can care for children from a wheelchair. Because the Internet was just beginning at the time, it wasn’t much help. The young couple visited libraries and bookstores and spoke with her doctors and other medical professionals.
But information was scarce and their search for other mothers in similar situations was unsuccessful.
“After I had the baby, I vowed that I would have a Web site or write a book to share tips and information I picked up as I learned the ropes,” says Klann, 36. “I know I’m not the only mom in America in a wheelchair. It may not be a huge population, but nonetheless, I am not the only one.”
With Jared in diapers, the couple set out to gather information, a process that ultimately went on for the next 10 years, during which time, Klann and Chris welcomed Ryan, now 7, and Sabreena, 5, into the world.
A new chapter
In 2008, Klann was ready to start sharing her insights with a larger audience and launched a blog, Moms on Wheels.
Klann’s entertaining yet informative entries include everything from tips to changing a baby from a wheelchair to stories about her youngster’s mischievous behavior. The blog’s format also allows for Q & A and input from subscribers.
Some of her material comes from the trials and tribulations of having three children and using a wheelchair. She also gives tips and suggestions on accessible baby equipment that make life easier for both mother and child.
Currently, the site has 30 free subscribers, and Klann wants to make that number grow. She has received a limited amount of feedback about MomsOnWheels from readers.
“I’m hoping to be a source of both information and encouragement for other moms or dads on wheels,” she says. “I know that the group I’m speaking to is not a big population, but I also know how valuable this information will be [to them].”
Klann also has added a community called Mothers in Wheelchairs to the existing online community, Circle of Moms, found on the social networking site Facebook. To access the page, go to the Circle of Moms homepage, then click on "communities" and search for "Mothers in Wheelchairs."
New parents on wheels shouldn’t have to do without this kind of practical guidance, says Klann – and she’s hopeful her Web outreach will fill that information gap.