Stella was born with spinal muscular atrophy (SMA), causing her to need a wheelchair.
When she received her first Barbie, also in a wheelchair, her mother Samantha Lackey saw a spark in her self-esteem, according to Good Morning America.
So as Christmas time rolled in this year, Lackey decided to take a classic holiday tradition and give it a creative, more inclusive spin.
And thus, Bean, Stella’s Elf on the Shelf, became a wheelchair user as well.
With his purple chair and bright pink foot holders, Bean is practically Stella’s twin. And having the best time.
Stella and Bean even share the same activities, like rock climbing
Stella regularly climbs the rock wall while at occupational therapy. And with a few craft supplies, Bean climbs too!
Or using a G-tube
Lackey shared on Instagram that Stella has since moved on from her gastronomy tube, but still had some leftover syringes.
Being an elf, Bean, of course, is supplemented with hot cocoa.
And winter time pool parties
So. Many. Floaties.
Just all around embracing the finer things in life
The caption “sELF care Sunday” is just too clever not to share.
Bean also helps Samantha speak up for the disabled community…
Lackey often posts her clever Bean pics alongside informational—and inspiring—captions, like this one:
“Did you know the disabled community makes up 25% of the worlds population. Making it the largest minority group in the world AND one that you can join at any point in your life. We’ve learned how important representation is to raising a daughter with a disability. We’ve also seen how immensely UNDER represented disability really is in our lives. REAL disability, not Drake in a wheelchair (😬) We, as allies need to do better for the generations we’re raising. Normalize disability. Have conversations. Grow relationships. Fight for equal rights and pay. Amplify voices. Focus on mental health.”
…making big topics elf-sized
Lackey shared with GMA that starting a conversation about disability can be overwhelming, especially for parents who never grew up needing to have them. So starting small, with toys and books that better normalize disability, makes the subject easier to approach, both for kids and parents.
It might be a “silly little tradition,” but after seeing the immensely positive impact it has had for Stella, Lackey calls the decision a “no-brainer.”
“We make it a lot harder on ourselves,” Lackey told GMA. “If we start with small conversations, whether it be Elf on the Shelf or inclusive toys or a character in a book that they see, or on their favorite TV show, that’s just going to help a future generation be inclusive and be kind and be good humans.”
As for whether or not Lackey plans for Bean to return next Christmas, she’s already let folks on Instagram know that, yes, he will definitely be making a comeback. Perhaps next time, “with pyrotechnics—who knows?”
You can follow Stella, Bean, Samantha, and all their holiday shenanigans on Instagram by following @stronglikestella.