For people with disabilities and/or functional needs, or who care for family or friends with disabilities and/or functional needs, the world can be an isolating place, filled with unique hurdles others cannot relate to. Matthew Chambers realized this quickly after his son Jude was diagnosed at 5 months old with a rare genetic disorder called tuberous sclerosis complex. The diagnosis meant having a clearer vision of how to get Jude the help and resources he'd need to better his quality of life, but it also meant major unexpected lifestyle adjustments for Chambers and his wife Jordana, who speaks about learning the diagnosis in the video below.
"As cliché as it sounds, life changed in ways I'm not sure I can even adequately express," Matthew Chambers told A Plus in an email. "I had to relearn everything about life, love, care, time management, parenting, education, work, shopping … everything changed. How I saw the world changed. How [we] saw each other changed. How I saw pain, depression, struggle, and hope changed."
This shift complicated most aspects of everyday living — shopping, eating out, traveling, etc. — as the family now had to consider what kind of accommodations would be available to their son. But rather than simply wishing there was an easier way to access an understanding community, and the places and brands that would best serve their needs, Chambers decided to create one.
With his co-founder Tariq Zaidi and the help of his brothers, Chambers launched Springible — a consumer and lifestyle online platform (currently in beta) dedicated to people who have, or care for others who have, functional needs or disabilities.
The platform provides users with information on five main lifestyle categories: food, fashion, travel, home, and wellness, connecting them with resources to make navigating daily challenges a little easier. "Not everyone's challenges are the same when we're talking about the medical side," Chambers told A Plus, "but most people have nearly identical needs on the day-to-day side," and Springible makes it easier to find the appropriate lifestyle and consumer solutions that save time and money.
In addition to being a "fixed point of reference for caregivers to figure out how to 'do' life every day while living in the midst of massive challenges," Springible fosters an empowered community. The platform is a virtual gathering space for those on similar journeys to share their stories via blog posts and articles, be there for one another, answer questions, exchange lifestyle tips and hacks, provide a safe space, or just a listening ear. It is this sense of community building that is so important to Chambers, who says connecting with others on similar paths is what gives him the strength and resolve to take on whatever is coming next.
"To know someone else is navigating difficulty and still keeping their head above water is a comfort, and helps me keep moving, too. After all, no matter what, Jordana and I are who Jude depends on every day for EVERYTHING. He's living a life he never asked for, and we're here to make sure he has what he needs, and to hopefully show him love and joy somehow."
Courtesy of Matthew Chambers
Chambers hopes anyone who has ever felt their world, their family, community, city, or nation, didn't have room for them, will feel a sense of belonging at Springible.
"If life is like a table, inclusivity means you are allowed to sit at that table. Belonging, on the other hand, means there is already a seat at the table with your name on it. Instead of asking for permission to sit at the table, you belong with your actions," it says in a Springible article called "Maximizing Your Situation."
“All of us become more of who we were meant to be when everyone has a seat at the table,” Chambers told A Plus.
And while it has taken Chambers and the Springible team some time to communicate their brand identity to those they are trying to reach — "on one hand, it's kind of niche, but on the other hand, it's 75 percent of the total U.S. population" — Chambers says people have responded very well so far with positive feedback, and that the platform is already opening doors to new brand partnerships, advocacy opportunities, and that they've even been nominated for an award (more details to come, he says).
"I see Springible as a gift. A gift to get to create a platform like this, and a gift to give away a platform like this. It's not a gimmick, it's born out of my own, very personal journey. So, it means the world when someone feels encouraged or hopeful or finally hear that they belong. I couldn't ask for anything more."
Courtesy of Matthew Chambers