Smart and charming, Emily Ladau is 19 years old and a Dean’s List honor student at Adelphi University. She also has Larsen’s Syndrome, a rare congenital disorder that affects all of her bones and joints. Emily has endured numerous surgeries but still needs to use a wheelchair everyday .
Emily’s mother, Ellen, is 49 and has the same disorder and she too has had many surgical procedures. She uses a walker or power wheelchair depending on whether she is wearing her leg brace or the distances needed to be traveled. Ellen, her husband Marc, and Emily have lived in a two bedroom 1950’s ranch style house on Long Island since 1996. Over the years they have added a ramp and an accessible bathroom, with the generous help of their family.
The old original kitchen is still a source of daily frustration for them. There are many high and low areas that can’t be accessed. Carrying pots and pans to and from the stove is difficult because their hands are either on walker handles or their wheelchairs. Many kitchen tasks just have to be postponed until Marc is home from work. Since Emily is quite petite she can not reach the sink or countertop and can not prepare even the simplest of meals for herself.
Architect, Mark Wittenberg has designed a new “ mother – daughter “ kitchen for them. It includes two prep areas one with a counters slightly lower than regular height with a open spaces under the sink and the cook top, On the other side of the kitchen is a space for Emily. It has countertop that is shallow ( 20”) and low ( 30”) . It has a small sink with an single lever faucet. A side by side refrigerator will allow Emily to reach the freezer. Other details include: pull out drawers for pots, easy to reach outlets and light switches and an under counter microwave.
The Ladau family is thrilled with the design and Emily says ” I can’t wait to cook my own full course meal.” And Ellen is looking forward to more independence in her kitchen and teaching her daughter the skills she will need to live a more independent life. “We are so grateful to have found Home Free Home and know that with their guidance we will finally get a functional kitchen.”