As a parent of a child with special needs, I am always happy to share my knowledge and information with my peers. So it is with that in mind that I share my daughter Maya’s experience with her Koolways Koat.
Maya is almost 10 years old. As my daughter grows, we find it has been harder to find winter coats that were big enough to fight her high-toned arms into. For those of you who have children with high tone, you know that it can be a bit of a struggle to get tight limbs into small holes! I also found it increasingly difficult and time consuming to put on her coat where I would need to get one arm in and then twist the rest of the jacket through her lateral supports on her power chair and then around to the other arm and twist that arm in as well. Regular winter coats were bulky in behind her and would make the lateral supports very tight, especially at the end of winter when she would have grown a bit.
Another issue we always encountered was keeping her legs warm during the winter months. Forget trying to get her into snow pants! That WASN’T going to happen. It was hard enough getting the jacket on! But children with cerebral palsy get particularly cold in the winter, as they don’t move enough. I wanted her to be able to go outside to play at recess but she was never able to before because it would be too cold for her. On the really bitter cold days, I would have to place a blanket over her legs from the house to the bus or the car. But that wasn’t a long-term solution of course because the blanket would inevitably fall off and get wet.
One day I asked one of Maya’s therapists what other parents do in our situation. She referred me to an online company called Koolway Sports. I looked at their website and saw these beautiful jacket sets with an attached “blanket” that would cover Maya’s legs and feet. I called them up and they were super nice. They quoted a price in around the $500 range and explained that the suits were custom and handmade in Whitby, Ontario and that ALL their materials are made in Canada. I felt that this was going to be an investment into our daughter’s comfort and once I made the decision to purchase one, they advised me how to measure Maya properly. We were so thrilled with the final result! Instead of having to fight tight limbs into the jacket, the jacket zips up around the arms. They also make the back of the jacket shorter so that you don’t have to tuck a bunch of bulky material in. The “blanket” easily slides over Maya’s footrests and zips to the bottom of the coat. When she is fully dressed she looks like she is in a sleeping bag! The material is so warm and cozy. There are zippers at the top of the jacket that her chest strap fits through so they don’t need to be on the outside of the coat.
We also purchased accessories such as hats and mittens. Maya’s has a bit of an odd-shaped head due to her hydrocephalus, so she never seems to properly fit into a regular winter hat. I measured her head and we got a beautiful hat that was so warm and fits her perfectly! The mitts come with a slit on one of them to accommodate a stick shift. This way, Maya does not need to take off her gloves to drive her power chair, something that she ALWAYS had to do before.
As you ALL know, this has been a particularly difficult winter. But I was so grateful to Koolway Sports for making a wonderfully warm and cozy winter suit for Maya. It made everything a bit more manageable. I would definitely recommend them to anyone with a child in a wheelchair!
We can not thank the Alyssa V. Phillips Foundation enough for funding his Koolway Sports Gear. What they did for Conlan is going to be literally be life saving as Conlans temperatures have been falling OFF the thermometer lately. It gets very scary. Also, working with Jennifer Gallienne Nee Straumann and John Cook was such a humbling experience. I, in absolutely NO form or way get paid to endorse, share or recommend their products. I met them last year when I bought a pair of Koolway Boots that were in their clearance section. I got super lucky when I found them as they only had 2 pair available because they had a new model boot coming out. It was then I stayed in touch w Jenny and dreamed and wished for a Koolway Koat. This winter, Conlan health became more complex so I then knew I HAD TO FIND A WAY TO KEEP MY SON SAFE AND WARM FROM HEAD TO TOE WHEN OUTSIDE. Not to mention accessibility and comfort… but truly for us we had to find a way to keep Conlan safe when in his wheelchair. I did research myself and read about many grants, reached out to the Alyssa V.Phillips Foundation and received an approval email back within one hours time! I LOVE TO HELP OTHERS AND WILL HELP YOU FIND FUNDING! This journey shouldnt be about competing with each other as special needs families or jealously… I can suggest at least 3 other organizations that MAY FUND www.koolwaysports.com outer gear. ID LOVE TO TRUELY HELP YOU! OUR KIDS DESERVE TO BE SAFE. JENNY AND JOHN – YOUR PASSION TO HELP US BLEEDS THROUGH VOICE AND WORK! THERE IS NO DOUBT YOU LOVE WHAT YOU DO! WE CAN NOT THANK YOU ENOUGH ♡ ALYSSA V PHILLIPS FOUNDATION THANK YOU FOR OPENING YOUR HEARTS ALSO AND CARING FOR CONLANS HEALTH AS HE IS ONE OF YOUR OWN.
Jennifer & John, the Vancouver experience was wonderful
and the Koolway Coats gave us not only “warmth” and identity.
I think a great part of the warmth was engenered the personal attention care and deep interest shown by the Koolway Crew!
Steve R Stoute
Barbados Olympic Association