Metro Detroit mother using teddy bear decal to notify first responders about a child with special needs

The next teddy bear someone sees around Southeast Michigan not be fluffy and warm, but a sticker peeking out from behind a window. 

Not just a physical object for comfort, one Metro Detroit mom is hoping to turn the brown bear with a white shirt that reads "I'm here" into the universal sign for all first responders that there is a special needs person that lives nearby. 

The ReeceWorld Bear is inspired by Trina Perryman's daughter, who is nonverbal and requires specific care from her mom and caretakers.

"Reece is a 17-year-old sassy lady," Perryman said, laughing, though she admits it's hard for people to sometimes see it. Most of the time, it's just "lots of stares, lots of whispers."

"A lot of people not realizing that she's a kid first," Perryman said.

Reece was diagnosed with multiple conditions at birth. She has cerebral palsy, developmental delays, and epilepsy. But those don't define who Reece is, and her mom is reminded of that every day.

"She likes to just be outside. She likes to catch raindrops on her tongue. You know, feel the wind on her face. She likes being by the water," said Perryman.

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When the totality of care that would be needed to assist Reece came into view, Perryman said it required a particular focus on the positive side of things. It took breaking things down into bite-sized pieces so the duties weren't so daunting. 

But aside from being a diligent caregiver, Perryman has also seen her role grow into advocacy for children with special needs. 

One way that responsibility has morphed is through a new initiative that helps keep people who are non-verbal or have limited speech capabilities safe in the event of an emergency. 

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"I was afraid as a mom that if something was to happen to me - and I am her voice - I wouldn't be able to speak up for her," Perryman said. "So, say that I'm sick and first responders have to come into the house. How will they know she was in the bedroom or somewhere in the house?"

Her answer was a simple decal; a 4-by-4 inch sticker that says "I'm here" that helps tell people that someone who can't speak for themselves is there. 

Perryman recommends putting a sticker on your front door, on the bedroom window where a disabled person is, as well as under the door knob of the door inside the house. Even on one's car.

"Just to let people know there is a special needs person, possibly nonverbal in the house or in the car,"

So far, she's sent letters to 50-60 police departments and fire precincts that help notify the first responders of what they can expect if they see the bear decal. She's also been passing out flyers and selling the stickers on her website. 

Learn more about the ReeceWorld Bear Initiative here