KANSAS CITY, Mo. — This week, the city council in Kansas City could look at an often overlooked need. A new ordinance could require universal changing stations in new businesses.
According to a recent report, 43.5 million Americans cared for an older adult or child with disabilities last year, which explains why local families believe this is a “life-changing” first step.
Many families with special needs face the same issue when they’re out and about but need to go to the bathroom.
Their children who have disabilities eventually grow out of the small, plastic and flimsy changing tables. The average one is meant to hold only 30 pounds.
Parents are forced to use the floor of public bathrooms.
“Hudsyn is 65 pounds,” Dad Dan Seitz said. “Leaving the house is really hard for special needs families.”
He cares for daughter Hudsyn, 10, who has special needs.
Seitz said they already feel isolated, and this makes it that much harder to go out in public where having a clean and accessible place to go to the restroom is easily taken for granted.
“It’s not just a dirty floor,” Seitz said. “It’s also a privacy situation. It’s just all over the board a horrible place. A gas station would be my worst case scenario of course.”
“Can you imagine doing that?” Councilwoman Heather Hall said.
She is working to get a new ordinance passed in KCMO to lift mind, body and spirit. It involves future businesses and universal changing stations.
“We need to treat people with dignity and that does not do it if we cannot give them a way be changed in an appropriate manner.
These universal changing stations have already been installed in places like the Kansas City Zoo and the Kauffman Center for Performing Arts.
This ordinance would require all future ‘family restrooms’ being constructed in Kansas City, Missouri to have one from grocery stores to restaurants.
“It is life changing,” Seitz said.
If Seitz isn’t lifting Hudsyn from wheelchair to floor and floor to wheelchair at least twice a week, they’re king a trip to the van.
“My wife and I had to basically buy an $80,000 van so that we could have a place to change her,” Seitz said.
This one more piece would make it easier to mark everyday tasks off the to-do list.
Many families, including the Seitz, plan to show their support Wednesday at City Hall.
If the Neighborhood and Planning Committee sends the ordinance to full council and it’s approved, council members could vote as early as Thursday.