Ever get those moments when you look at your kids and think you just love them soooo much? You'd do anything for them. You want the very best for them. And nothing less.
This doesn't change if you have a child with disabilities. The only difference is you usually have to fight for everything that makes your baby's life easier.
I hate that I have to share the photo of my friend's son below to make you all take notice. But please - take notice. Just look. And imagine this was your child.
I'm the type of person who isn't a fan of public toilets, but will use them. When you need to go, you need to go.
I'm the type of person who uses tissue roll to flush and unlock the door.
The type of person who makes sure that their bag hangs on the back of the door and doesn't touch the floor.
I am a lover of automatic sinks and flushes (there's a sentence I never thought I'd write) and I like to use my side or foot to open the door and make my swift exit.
Now I have an incontinent child with disabilities, public toilets my arch nemesis. Because the powers that be and building standards decided that a 3.5sqm room with some handrails was sufficient enough to tick a box that said disabled.
I remember the sadness when it dawned on me one day that Brody no longer fitted on baby changing tables and my horror in realising there was no other option but the toilet floor, the car boot or leaving and rushing home. How had no one thought of this? Does no one care?
The answer appears to be NO.
It sometimes feels like everything is a battle when you're a special needs parent and here is a big one. We're talking about a basic human right. It feels like there is this notion that disabled people just don't matter. We are the minority group. These problems don't affect your average family. So who cares?
Forget about the mother having to lay her son on a filthy floor covered in urine and bacteria.
Don't worry about the carers back whilst he tries to lift his loved one out of a wheelchair.
Forget about the exhausted parent with a wheelchair and specialist equipment trying to manoeuver in a 3.5sqm space.
Out of sight, out of mind right?
Disabled toilets need a bench, a hoist and more room for wheelchairs, equipment and a parent/carer to assist. Why is this a big ask?
Ignorance is bliss for many, but it really isn't for us. We shouldn't have to put photos on social media of children lying on toilet floors to highlight the need for these facilities. It's common sense. Not everyone lives in that disability free bubble.
Some clever creator of quotes once said the disabled population is the world's largest minority of which anyone can become part of at any time. And if the politicians and organisations who can make these changes don't consider the disabled community now - you know 1 in 5 of us, who also pay taxes, contribute to society and have feelings - they should consider this fact. Because one day, inadequate toilet facilities might affect them or somebody they love. And let me tell you - it breaks your heart.
My beautiful boy deserves more than a toilet floor and all of those germs. He has enough challenges in life.
We can choose to be affected by the world. Or we can choose to affect it.
I choose the latter. And so do my successful campaigning friends.
A website has recently been created called http://mychangingplace.co.uk/ (which can also be found on Facebook and Twitter) to try and create more awareness of Changing Places and Space to Change facilities. Both of which are amazing facilities designed to make going to the toilet much easier for the disabled community.
We are all fighting for the same cause - to be able to take our family members out without having to worry about laying them on a toilet floor or rushing home because there are no appropriate toilets.
Unfortunately, there are only 840 Changing Places in the UK and with potentially half a million people spread out across the country needing them, this just isn't enough.
This petition http://bit.ly/toilets4all by Lorna Fillingham asks David Cameron to ensure equality of access to disabled toilets for all by making the provision of Changing Places toilets mandatory in the buildings mentioned in BS 8300:2009.
Please sign and share it.
And please help by raising awareness of Changing Places and Space to Change. It would make such a big difference to so many people. We all need to fight for this. I don't want us and our loved ones to suffer with this challenge any more.
If you're in a position to do something about this (e.g. a Politician, Architect, Facilities or Estates Manager) then please take action! And if you're in my shoes, visit the Changing Places and Space to Change's websites. Talk to fellow campaigners. Send the information to local places of interest. Tell them why we need this. Raise awareness.
You can also help raise awareness by joining the #barefootchallenge ! Take a picture of your bare feet on your bathroom floor (or, if you are brave, on a public toilet floor!) and #tweetyoufeet or post on Facebook!
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