Trina Perryman remembers vividly the day her daughter, Reece, was born. She knew instantly something was different with her newborn baby, who quickly began having seizures.
“Before we left the hospital, a neurologist told us there was a chance she could have cerebral palsy,” Perryman says. “He also told us she may be a vegetable.”
The news devastated and confused her.
“I hadn’t fully processed what happened,” she says. “I had a good pregnancy up until 37 weeks. After a certain point the doctors, specialists, and nurses started to sound like the character from the Charlie Brown cartoon.”
During Reece’s first two years, she only ate and slept. “She didn’t make any noise or smile, she did open her eyes, but she didn’t seem like she was aware,” she says.
Perryman received a formal diagnosis when Reece was about 2: Cerebral palsy, epilepsy, developmental delays and microcephaly, which is a term for having a small head.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1 in 345 children have been diagnosed with cerebral palsy. Cerebral palsy is more common among boys than girls, and is more common among Black children than white children.
“Reece is nonverbal; however, she communicates very well,” Perryman says. “She is also wheelchair bound; she uses four wheels to get around instead of her two legs. She thinks that is cool.”
Perryman is determined to ensure that her daughter is heard and seen.
“My best friend and I were talking about what would happen with Reece if something was to happen to me and no one else was in the house,” she says. “My biggest fear was Reece being in the home, something happening, and I can’t speak for her.”
That same day Reece, now 17, had a doctor’s appointment, where her neurologist gave her a teddy bear.
“We started brainstorming different ideas and was inspired by the bear,” she says.
That’s the moment the idea hit Perryman.
The beginning of ReeceWorld Bear Decal
She decided to launch an initiative that prioritizes the awareness and safety of children with special needs. She and her daughter created the ReeceWorld Bear Decal, which alerts people to the presence of a child or teen with special needs. It is a visible symbol for those who are non-verbal or have limited speech capabilities.
“The idea came about in a Leo’s Coney Island parking lot,” Perryman says.
The 4-inch by 4-inch decal reflects in the dark, is weatherproof and fade resistant.
“Placing the ReeceWorld Bear decal on the door and/or window will give parents one less thing to worry about,” she explains. “[Parents] can sink into the pillow a little bit more knowing that if something happens and they can’t speak for their child(ren), the ReeceWorld Bear got their back.”
In addition, Perryman and her daughter co-wrote a book, Confessions of A Special Needs Mom: Reece and Me, as well as a coloring book, The World Through Reece’s Eyes, which describes Reece’s way of life.
“I am hoping that the ReeceWorld Bear decal becomes a universal symbol that gives a voice to the voiceless,” says Perryman. “The purpose is awareness. I’m trying to do whatever I can to help special needs families worry less. I want families to have the same relief I had when I put the decal in my window.”
Where to buy the decal
The decal is available for individual and wholesale purchase at Reece World of Michigan and online at trina-nicole.com. A portion of the profits will benefit Reece World of Michigan, a non-profit organization that provides support, resources and relief to parents or caregivers of children with special needs.
For more information on the ReeceWorld Bear decal, visit, reeceworldofmichigan.com.
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