Posted on Thursday May 6, 2021
Tonya Gilchrist, a lifelong Amigo owner, is based in the Washington DC area and lives with her husband Don and children Ben (age 8) and Maya (age 10). She started using a yellow Amigo FD as a child in middle school. Before that, she used a trike and still remembers being teased at school. Now in her 40’s, she currently drives a RTX. Tonya has juvenile rheumatoid arthritis that limits all her joints. Therefore, she is unsteady on her feet and fatigues easily. Consequently, with her diagnosis, she has found it safer to use her Amigo. “If I fall, which has happened many times, I can’t catch myself and could suffer injuries. I’m also able to conserve my energy on my Amigo,” says Tonya Gilchrist.
Now, as a mom, her Amigo allows Tonya to do things with her kids that her mobility issues would not allow. She calls her family multicultural because they celebrate both disability and African American culture as both of her children are African American and were adopted as babies. Her family is an “outdoorsy” group, and they love spending time going on walks together. Her kids have never known their mom without using an Amigo. Tonya Gilchrist uses her Amigo as an everyday advantage. In short, this advantage grants her mobility to help build family memories and even allows her to go on rough mulch-like park trails.
Their family also loves to travel and have been to Disney World. “One time, we spent the entire day at Disney, and we were pooped. My kids fell asleep on me, one behind me and one below my feet on the Amigo platform. Strangers were smiling at us. Only a mom who uses an Amigo could do that!”
“Strangers were smiling at us. Only a mom who uses an Amigo could do that!”Amigo User Tonya Gilchrist
Accessible Residential Design
Tonya was a social worker for 20 years and started her own business, Accessible Living Interiors Design & Interiors by Tonya Gilchrist, ten years ago, focusing on accessible residential design. Tonya explains, “I do aging in place assessments so that any older adult or children can live in their own home safely.” She helps individuals make design changes in their kitchen or bathroom to be more independent in day-to-day life. She serves adults, older adults, and children with various disabilities and health conditions. See some of her tips below.
In the Kitchen & Bathroom:
- Install a raised dishwasher. Elevating the dishwasher avoids bending over.
- Refrigerators come in drawer styles and can be placed anywhere in the home to make access easier.
- Use a pullout table for preparing food while sitting or a rolling island on wheels.
- In the bathroom, install a roll-in shower with a linear drain that creates a flat transition surface.
- If you prefer taking a bath, add a bath lift that can lower you into and back up out of the tub.
In addition to designing accessible kitchens and bathrooms, Tonya has designed a residential accessory apartment with accessible features throughout the unit, including grab bars, roll under sink, handheld shower, pocket doors, and ample turning space.
Please visit ALI Design & Consulting by Tonya Gilchrist for more information. She is based in the Washington, DC area and provides one-on-one consults virtually via Zoom and other platforms.
COVID Changes– Tonya Gilchrist
Since the start of the pandemic, Tonya’s kids have been at home doing virtual school on the computer. Both of her children have learning disabilities, and her son has autism. Their family, like many, have found it extremely hard to deal with changes that have come along with COVID. As a result, most days are spent multitasking by supervising the kids’ classes and taking care of the household.
Having a disability most of her life, Tonya Gilchrist shares:
- Keep a positive attitude
- Also, write in a journal about your struggles and successes
- Likewise, always find things to be thankful for
- Above all, there’s only one person like you in the entire world. Celebrate your strengths!
On one of her travels to Europe, her Amigo, unfortunately, shorted out while charging on a cruise ship. She was very impressed when she called Amigo, and they were able to ship a part to her home. A quickly shipped part allowed her to use her Amigo immediately when she returned home. She credits Amigo’s customer service as an added benefit through the years.
“ Most importantly, thank you to Amigo for giving me the ability to make these memories.”All the best, Tonya Gilchrist