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Design show helping kids with handicaps, illnesses better adapt to life at home

Design show looks to impact the lives of kids with mental and physical disabilities

Fox News' Dr. Manny Alvarez sits down with winner of HGTV’s 'Design Star' Meg Caswell to discuss how her new Design Network show called 'Welcome Home Angel' showcases the design community's enormous impact on kids with mental and physical disabilities by providing a makeover of the child's bedroom to create a healthy environment in which to live and recover.

Parenting special needs or chronically ill children impacts all areas of life, oftentimes including the challenges of navigating around a typical home. A new show called “Welcome Home Angel” streaming on the Design Network aims to eliminate those worries for families by creating fun bedrooms that are also safe environments for their children.

“With design, so many people think it’s about just fabrics and pretty paint colors, but really these children need that extra layer for their sensory issues,” Meg Caswell, the show’s host and winner of HGTV’s “Design Star,” told Fox News. “A lot of these children don’t get to go outside and play like normal children, so they spend a lot of time in their homes or in their bedrooms. So being able to give them that fun space that’s also safe is important.”

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Caswell said the show is based on the non-profit organization “Welcome Home Angel” run out of Wilmington, N.C., that she had a lot of experience working with.

“I got to see firsthand how design was changing the way these families interacted all day long, every day. We were taking them from being just a caregiver to being able to be parents again to enjoy their children, and not have to worry so much about keeping a safe environment for them.”

Caswell explained that it’s often the little details in floor plans that go overlooked, but can pose a big challenge for people with mobility issues, which is where her team steps in.

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“A lot of these children will also grow up to be adults and they need a safe way to be able to access their bathrooms just for daily hygiene, so we do help put in tracks and lifts, we widen doorways, we create bathrooms where wheelchairs can go straight into the shower,” she said. “But we also take into consideration something that the child loves as well.”

Caswell discussed an 11-year-old who loved the bath, but with her growing height and weight, it was getting difficult for her parents to lift her in and out. The group installed a bath that she could walk in and out of on her own, making it easier for her to find joy.

She added that turning to technology, like Amazon’s Alexa, can help the children with daily tasks like turning on the light. For parents who don’t have access to groups like Welcome Home Angel, Caswell said there are options that can be incorporated without a professional design show.

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“I would definitely work with your occupational therapist to understand what your child could benefit from,” she said. “There’s a lot of therapy toys out there that you can integrate into the design into your home that can help. And then I would also look at your local resources in different parts of the country.”

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