Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Equal Restroom Access For Little People

At nearly 3 years old, Annabelle has become quite the independent little girl. When she needs to use a public restroom, she waves her hand, and tells me, "Just don't watch. I can do it." I stand off to the side, peeking at her so I can help if she falls, or starts taking too much toilet paper. She wriggles herself up onto the toilet, and I take a deep breath, ignoring all the germs she is touching.
That's what soap is for, right?
She steadies herself on the toilet, and does her business. Now for the hard part. One hand on the toilet seat, she leans over to reach the toilet paper, and pull it towards herself. She's almost there.
A wipe, hop, and flush later, and she's done. She did it all by herself!
I hoist her 27-pound frame to reach the sink. She squirms uncomfortably, as I need to do this with one arm around her waist, while I balance Hazel on my hip, mindful of her head, which could flop back at any moment.
Bubbles foam, water splashes, and we are done.
I can't wait til she is tall enough to do this all independently.
For the LP community (people with dwarfism), this is an everyday struggle. It's not just preschoolers.
I spoke with one Mom, Chrissy Bernal about this.
Her daughter, Sienna, has a form of dwarfism, called primordial dwarfism. When Sienna was 13, they took a trip to the movies. When they needed to use the restroom, Chrissy was faced with a decision. Did she lift her teenager up to the sink, so she can wash her hands? Nope.
"Normally I would lift her up to help her wash her hands in the restroom, but I wanted to see how she would do on her own,"Chrissy recalls. "Without hesitation she climbed up on the counter and washed her hands."
Sounds legit, right?
Young teenage girl, hopping onto a counter to wash her hands.
Chrissy coninues, "Two ladies were near her and didn't see me. I saw them snicker about her ."
Not only can this be humiliating, it can also be dangerous.
Chrissy saw a need for change, and was not going to sit back.
She started asking local businesses to place stools, or lower sinks in their public restrooms.
What can you do to help?
First, I ask that you consider joining this movement. The next time you use a public restroom, take an extra minute to speak with the manager of the establishment, and ask about placing a step-stool at the sinks.
Second, please take a moment to sign and share this petition for change.
Third, follow the facebook page for updates on the changes that are occurring across the country, and hopefully around the world..
This change is not only for the LP community, but also for young children.

These images were provided to me by Chrissy Bernal, to illustrate a few of the many options available for equal access.

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