From the February 2019 issue

Michigan-Made X-Ability Bodycoats for Kids Who Use Wheelchairs

A young girl with cerebral palsy was the inspiration behind her mom's super smart (and warm) body coat invention, now available to buy as X-Ability Bodycoats.

X-Ability Bodycoats

X-Ability Bodycoats, made right here in Michigan, are helping kids and adults who use wheelchairs bundle up for bitter cold weather with ease.

But it all started when a young tween named Zoey Harrison, who has cerebral palsy, came home from school in a huff back during the winter of 2017.

Her school paraprofessional couldn’t figure out the coat her mom, Jennifer Harrison, had made. It lays flat on Zoey’s wheelchair and is easily zipped around her body so that Zoey, who uses a wheelchair to get around, wouldn’t miss any recess time struggling to get into a jacket.

But Zoey was once again stuck inside while her friends played, despite her mom’s new invention.

Mom’s creation goes viral

So Jennifer uploaded a how-to video to Facebook, told the school aide to check it out and “went to bed without giving it a second thought,” Jennifer says.

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“The next morning my husband was like, ‘Did you see how many likes that video got last night? Something like 7,000.’ It was crazy!”

The video caught the attention of a local news station, which snowballed into even more coverage. Jennifer – a mid-Michigan mom of 11, including biological, foster and adopted children – decided to start selling the coats herself.

Marketing a great idea

Along with raising her little ones, Jennifer began expanding the X-Ability Bodycoats line to include fun colors and more sizes for kids and adults.

“The coats are designed to be an extension of the actual wheelchair,” Jennifer says. “You prepare the body coat in the wheelchair. There are specific openings where you would pull the chair’s straps through. Then, you place the occupant in the chair.”

The coats are unlike other wheelchair coats that sit on top of the user like a blanket. With this design, wheelchair users stay warmer and have an easier time getting in and out.

And, best of all, Zoey doesn’t have to miss any more recess playtime with her pals.

Body coat details

X-Ability Bodycoats are lightweight and warm, filled with 90-percent white duck down. Each one features water-resisting batik fabric and nylon-reinforced strap openings.

The coats run $120-$195 as of early 2019. They’re available in colorful prints, black, pink and blue (watch for more options to come). There are children’s sizes 2-12/14 tall, along with adult sizes XS-double XL.

Check out X-Ability’s other gear, too, including animal winter hats, knit mittens and Grabease self-feeding utensils.

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