Mom Creates Elf On The Shelf In Wheelchair So Her Daughter Can Feel Represented

Representation matters.

Elf on The Shelf in a wheelchair stronglikestella / Instagram 

Every Christmas the “Elf on the Shelf” makes its way to homes across the world to act as Santa's scout and watch the children of the household — deciding whether or not you were naughty or nice.

By Christmas time, that scout returns home to the North Pole and report back to Santa and tell him whether or not you deserved presents that year.

But as kids spend time connecting with their elves during the holiday season, some children may not feel represented by their personal scout.


This was the case for one girl whose disability made her struggle to find toys that look like her. So her awesome mom took matters into her own hands.

An Arizona Mom made an 'Elf on the Shelf' in a wheelchair so her daughter had representation.

Stella Lackey was born with spinal muscular atrophy (SMA), a genetic disease that affects her motor function, when she was one month old.

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As a result, she has to use a wheelchair, pink ankle-foot orthoses, and a nasogastric tube in order to carry food and medicine to the stomach through the nose.


Samantha Lackey, Stella’s mother, decided that this year, her Elf on the Shelf would allow Stella to feel represented, and made Bean the Elf do all of the same things she does.

Bean the Elf sits in a wheelchair, has the same pink ankle-foot orthoses, uses a nasogastric tube, and even goes rock climbing at occupational therapy with Stella — except bean’s nasogastric tube is filled with hot chocolate.


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“I don't think she even second guesses that the elf is in a wheelchair because that's just what she's so used to,” she told Good Morning America in an interview. “For me to be able to mirror this little elf with her personality, I think she truly appreciates it.”

When Stella first received the wheelchair, which she calls "wheel wheels," at 9-months-old, Samantha made it her goal to make sure that Stella felt represented and didn’t feel any shame about her condition.

Many of Stella's toys also use wheelchairs.

She said when she and her husband gave Stella her first Barbie doll, who also uses a wheelchair, they saw her confidence grow, and began making more of an effort to make sure she sees herself in the toys she plays with, books she reads, and shows she sees.


"As a mom, I was worried about how am I going to relate to my child. I don't have a disability, I unfortunately never had relationships with disabled people growing up," Lackey said.

"So to see her truly appreciate how much representation can mean, it was a no-brainer."

On Instagram, she posted about Bean the Elf and made a social commentary to raise awareness of the importance of representation for disabled people.

“Did you know the disabled community makes up 25% of the world’s population?” she asked in her caption. “Making it the largest minority group in the world AND one that you can join at any point in your life.”


She went on to talk about how under-represented the disabled community is and how much she learned about it from her daughter’s disability.

Lackey continued, "I think bringing inclusion and normalizing disability is going to only make our kids a little kinder when they see someone with a disability."

Sometimes, it can all start with the Elf on the Shelf.

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Isaac Serna-Diez is a writer who focuses on entertainment and news, social justice, and politics. Follow him on Twitter here.