Things Are Looking Up

rachel-t-new-web.jpgA blog post by Rachel Turniansky, Coordinator of Special Needs Programming and Principal of Gesher Latorah.


Over the last couple of weeks in the world of social media I’ve been seeing numerous mentions about this new invention. It’s called the Upsee and it’s a harness that when attached to a child with mobility disabilities and connected to a strap around an adult, enables the child to “walk.” I saw it in my Facebook News Feed, retweets from friends as well as mentioned on blogs. I have to admit I wasn’t as thrilled with the idea of this item as everyone else. 

According to the Upsee website, of children who have used this device: “Some have been able to stand and hug their little brother or sister for the first time. Some have waved at neighbours on their first ever walk along their own street. And some crossed the playground hand-in-hand with their best friend for the very first time.”

As an inclusion advocate my initial reaction was – why does a person with a disability need to stand up to hug his/her sibling? Why is waving from a wheelchair less of a valuable social gesture than waving while being schlepped along in a harness? Shouldn’t playgrounds be as accessible for children with physical disabilities as they are for typical kids? 

After probably the 8th person sent me a link I figured I might as well check it out. What I learned is that I might have rushed to judgment. With the right frame of mind, I think this can actually be a wonderful thing. 

Contrary to my first impression, this is not just a big “snugli” for schlepping around a child with a physical disability. Physical and occupational therapists are finding that it’s a great tool for improving step initiation, a way to provide stimulation and sensory input from a different perspective and a motivating activity to encourage weight bearing. My reading also reinforced the concept that this is not meant to teach children to independently stand or walk, but one tool within a plan of treatment to maximize each child’s potential. 

Parents who have tried it or are lucky enough to own one have found it to be a fun way to bond with their children. This is an added benefit to parents who are often the main force behind the required daily exercises needed to develop stability and muscle strength in children with a variety of mobility disabilities. See it in action here:



Firefly is generously donating one Upsee to a reader, shipping included. You can enter the contest by clicking the link to one of my favorite blogs: Love That Max.

The giveaway will be open for three weeks, until April 28, 2014 at 12:00am EST.

CJE is an agency funded by THE ASSOCIATED: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore.