My friend Liz Jackson, also known as The Girl with the Purple Cane, has come up with a fascinating idea.
With the help of the Michael Graves design studio, she has developed a Seat Share badge for people to wear on the subway. Wearing a badge indicates that you are willing to give up your seat to someone who might need it.
The idea is that some people have invisible disabilities and though they don’t want to call attention to their problems, they really do need to sit.
Think, for example, of the person who has MS but no visible impairment, or someone with diabetes who is feeling faint. Think about the woman in early stages of pregnancy who is feeling tired and queasy. Or the person who has just worked two back to back shifts and can barely stand up.
Contrary to what you might imagine, people in the New York Subway give up their seats all the time to old people and people with canes and other visible signs of physical disability. In fact, people started offering me their seats a couple of years ago. That’s how I knew I was starting to look old.
Seat Share Badges Help People with Invisible Disabilities
But if your disability is not visible — if you’re not old and don’t use a cane, it’s hard and risky to ask for a seat. You don’t know what kind of response you’ll get.
Liz solves this problem with her Seat Share badge. If you are disabled or distressed and would like to sit down, all you need to do is walk up to someone with a badge and ask. And without a question, they’d give up their seat.
Liz’s idea is starting to catch fire and we’ll probably start seeing these badges next year.
I’ll be happy to give up my seat to others who may need it more than I do. And I’ll be happy to wear a badge — even if people do continue to give up their seats for me!
Seat Share Badges will be visible indicators of generosity. They’ll let people see who’s willing to help and give them permission to ask.
I’ve often thought that a smile and a friendly hello worked pretty well for me in opening communication. But there are places, like the subway, when you are not looking to engage in that more general way. For those situations, a Seat Share badge will work just fine.
Would you be willing to wear a Seat Share badge?
Offer Your Seat to Someone Today
With or without a Seat Share badge, you can be on the lookout for people who might need a bit of help. Try offering assistance, even if it’s not so obvious that people might need it. See what happens.
If you took the subway regularly, would you make it a point to wear a Seat Share badge? And speaking of sharing… do share your thoughts about wearing that (or any other) goodwill badge below. Or, come on over to Facebook and leave your comment there.