OLATHE, Kan. – It’s likely you’ve never heard of an adult changing table. They’re not in a lot of restrooms in the Kansas City area, but one metro woman wants to change that.
Debra Wiebrecht is the executive director for Variety Children’s Charity of Greater Kansas City. Her organization recently added two adult changing tables at the YMCA in Olathe.
“It’s an important thing to get these kids and their families into our community and extend the stay they have so they don’t have to rush home or cut their trip short,” Wiebrecht said.
The tables are similar to baby changing tables, but they are a lot longer and more durable. They cost between $600 and $3,000 and can hold up to 500 pounds.
“By including these bathrooms, it helps to be more sanitary and give kids a bit more dignity,” Wiebrecht said.
“It’s always a great surprise because it’s not that common yet,” Debbie Niemann said.
Niemann’s 15-year-old daughter, Cecilia, was born with cerebral palsy and uses a wheelchair. She's unable to use the restroom on her own.
“We can’t always make it back home every 3-4 hours for her to go to the bathroom at home where it’s setup for her,” Niemann said.
She has to change her daughter’s brief on the floor of the bathroom or inside their van – an experience that can sometimes make Niemann feel helpless.
“It’s just something every time inside of me, I just wish there was someplace for me to put her, so I don’t hurt my back or drop her,” Niemann explained.
Niemann said she didn’t even realize the need for the special tables until Cecilia, who weighs about 100 pounds, started to get older. She knows her situation isn’t unique.
“People don’t realize that 1 in 4 families are impacted by disabilities,” Niemann said. “Cecilia’s opened my eyes to how many people and children out there are struggling with the same thing and families aren’t leaving their house."
Wiebrecht is now petitioning more businesses, including the design team behind the new KCI airport, to consider including the tables – or even benches – to their restrooms.
“We’re asking every business leader, business, everyone in Kansas City to think about the entire population when you’re building, remodeling or even if you just want to make a small change,” Wiebrecht said.
For Niemann, the simple addition means everything. She said it not only makes life easier for families like hers, but it also sends a message of inclusiveness.
“I think so many people just don’t appreciate (adult changing tables) because they haven’t had to deal with it,” Niemann said.