Amy Barczy is a brand journalist at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan and writes for AHealthierMichigan.org and MIBluesPerspectives.com. Prior to joining Blue Cross, she was a statewide news reporter for MLive.com. She has a decade of storytelling experience in local news media markets including Lansing, Grand Rapids, Holland, Ann Arbor and Port Huron.
Trina Perryman is her 17-year-old daughter’s biggest fan and fiercest friend.
She’s also her eyes, hands and voice.
Her daughter, Reece Perryman, was born with cerebral palsy, epilepsy and developmental delays, conditions that make Reece unable to speak. One of Trina’s biggest fears is not being able to speak for Reece – like in the event of an emergency.
That’s why Trina has created a special ReeceWorld Bear decal to put on her car and in and around her home. The decal is an image of a teddy bear that says “I’m here” – meant to be a sign to first responders to check for someone with special needs.
“If there was a fire, what are we going to do? How will they know if she’s back there? Or if the police have to come to the home for any reason, how would they know she was there?” Trina said. “You can put the decal on your front door, and on the bedroom windows where the special needs person is and under the doorknob of where the special needs person is. First responders, police officers, firefighters – they will know the special needs person is in that room and that they are there.”
Trina is working to spread the word about the decal, reaching out to local police departments and sharing the decals with her network. She hopes the decal gives caregivers peace of mind, amid all the other worries that they carry.
“If one mom or caregiver, gets just a little bit of relief, just a tiny bit, like less than a mustard seed of relief, I will be happy,” Trina said. “This life can be very, very stressful. Life in general can be stressful, then add on the day to day worry that we have – it can be stressful. If this brings just a little bit of relief for just one caregiver, I’m good.”
The decal is a part of a nonprofit Trina has started, Reece World of Michigan, to help caregivers. She provides life coaching and mentoring to fellow parents of children with special needs and wants to start respite facilities for caregivers. Together, Reece and Trina have written a book about their experience: “Confessions of a Special Needs Mom: Reece & Me.”
“My goal is to get to the moms, to the caregivers, to realize they need self-love and self-care too in order to be there for their children,” Trina said.
For Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan members Reece and Trina, days start early so Reece can get on the bus at 6:20 a.m. to attend school in metro Detroit. Reece is “spicy and sassy,” Trina said, and loves to listen to her favorite songs and eat melon. As a caregiver, Trina says she’s learned to enjoy the little moments during the day – and that’s helped her stay positive throughout her caregiving journey.
“When Reece was little, she used to like catching the raindrops on her tongue. So whenever we would go outside in the rain, she wanted to stay there,” Trina said. “I learned to enjoy the small things. So now we’re just in the rain sometimes, dancing.”