In the disability or special needs community, there is a lot of camaraderie. In fact, I would go so far as to say that it doesn’t matter how you got into the community, once you are here, you have more in common with people than not and even if I am chatting with the family member of someone with a different disability, we have a connection.
A few months ago now I was contacted by a site on Instagram called YooCan. I was intrigued by their mission and their desire to help people from all walks of life, all places on the globe, and all different special needs. They are using their platform to show the world that YooCan do anything!
I wrote a piece for their site titled “How a baby’s diagnosis made his mom want to change the world.”
Cedar and I were also later featured on one of their 24-hour stories where I took their followers through a day in the life of Cedar, my son, who has down syndrome. In keeping with my curious nature, I had a list of questions about how this site began and who was the man (or men) behind the name. Here is what I found when I asked these questions to the co-founder of this awesome site.
- Tell me a little bit about yourself personally. Do you have children?
My name is Moshe Gaon, I am a Business Entrepreneur, CEO & Co-founder of yoocan. I have four children.
- How are you personally connected to the Special Needs Community?
In July 2008, my nephew (Erez) was born with a rare disease and complex cognitive and physical disabilities. This was the beginning of an emotionally challenging journey for my family. It brought us together in many ways, but it was hard as we needed to adjust to a new way of living.
- Did you learn of your nephew’s diagnosis pre or post natally?
Erez was diagnosed with a rare disease called Congenital Nevus post natally. We were shocked and didn’t really know what to expect. The odds were against us and the doctors were pessimistic. We understood that we needed to focus on his quality of life and empowering Erez and others like him that they can do anything.
- How old is your nephew?
Erez recently celebrated his 9th birthday on July 21st. He makes everyone around him better people, open to others, and to always search for the good rather than the bad in life. Erez is our inspiration for yoocan. We founded yoocan in order to empower and change lives for millions in the disability community all around the world.
- What supports were available to your family when he was born?
We found that there were many products and resources for people with disabilities, but they were scattered around the world and hard to find and buy. We began researching, talking to organizations and reaching out to community members around the world. We found that although there are 1.3 billion people living with disabilities in the world, they are still overlooked by companies and governments. There is so much to do to change lives and make them better for people with disabilities. In the US along there are 57 million Americans with disabilities; 10 million are children.
Our goal in creating yoocan was to empower people that they can do anything. yoocan is about showing stories of other people doing things that they may have never thought of doing themselves. It’s about connecting people and families to amazing products, services and innovations regardless of the limitations.
- Where on this globe do you call home? Is your nephew near?
Now I travel between Palo Alto and Tel Aviv. I also fly around the world to meet organizations and people to share the vision of the yoocan community. My children live in a suburb outside of Tel Aviv, Israel, in a house right next to Erez and my brother’s family.
- Many of us, after learning of the diagnosis, feel a need to help educate others, what did his diagnosis do to you as far as inspiration?
We were inspired to create yoocanfind.com, the leading empowerment source in the world for ideas, tips and solutions to make the lives of people living with disabilities better and more inclusive. The goal of yoocan is to showcase all the incredible things that people with disabilities are doing and connect them easily to the solutions. yoocan’s mission is to focus on what people can do, and not what they can not.
- What has having a family member with special needs done to change your life?
This gave us a huge perspective in life- to live to the fullest, say thank you for what you have, and enjoy life everyday. Erez has taught us to look at the glass half full and search for small accomplishments. Once we started focusing on all of his positive strengths, his beautiful soul came out and also his abilities.
- Can you tell me about your nephew, what is he like, how old is he, what is he up to?
Today Erez learns in third grade (high-functioning class in a special school). He can count in five languages, loves swimming, and is also a helpful carpenter to his father.
- Tell me a little bit about what led you to launch the yoocan site, (the personal reason you decided to branch out to all abilities/disabilities)
Like Erez, there are 1.3 billion people in the world living with some kind of cognitive or physical disability, striving to live a better, inclusive life, and fulfill their dreams. This journey led my brother (Erez’s father) and myself to start yoocanfind.com.
- What is your most proud moment on this journey towards educating others?
We are very proud that after one year since launch, we already have thousands of followers on our site and over 1,000 shared stories from over 100 countries. We have more than 700 organizations participating on our site and more than 1,600 relevant products you can find. Our popular Instagram page @yoocandoanything has over 25,000 followers! We didn’t know how fast yoocan would grow, but we have such a loyal community that is eager to spread the word to their family and friends. We see yoocan as one giant global family.
The overall goal of the yoocan site is to share with the world and empower with the amazing things that people with disabilities are doing each and every day. From sky diving, to surfing, to music and fashion, this community is proving that nothing is impossible and accomplishing so many incredible things. Our goal is to reach every person with a disability living around the world and its family and help with something. A story, a service, a product, a connection, a chat, etc. We also opened the “Ask yoocan” chat room on our site so if you need something and we can help, please ask. Yoocanfind.com is where it is all at.
We want them to join the yoocan family, share their story, connect with others and see all that is out there!