There are efforts underway to not only help those living with special needs, but also their loved ones and their caretakers.
How convenient would it be, to have powered changing tables in the rest areas along major highways?
Sabrina Kimball of Tallahassee, Florida started her universal changing places initiative back in 2015. The purpose to make restrooms more user-friendly for all people, especially those living with special needs. Kimball says her initiative was inspired by Greyson, her 20-year-old son.
“Here we go..he goes this is tight.”
“Greyson contracted Bacterial Meningitis when he was a baby. He was only ten days old so it caused developmental delays and it also caused Cerebral Palsy,” says Kimball.
Kimball, a single mom, says before starting universal changing places, it was hard trying to live a normal life with Greyson, specifically when it came time to change him.
“We would have to try to figure out something in our minivan and as he’s gotten longer it’s become more and more challenging. We would always have to leave. We have the stow and go seats. So we would leave one side open and then you would have to take him out of his car seat, come around and then lay him on the floor in the minivan,” says Kimball.
Kimball reached out to News 3, after an earlier report on a Savannah mom with a similar story.
“We have a wheel-chair accessible van… Nykiah’s wheelchair goes in there. We have space in the van but my thing was why should we have to lay her on the floor of the van to change her pull up,” Paula Connelly.
Since starting her initiative in 2015, Kimball started looking into powered changing tables.
“For me if I have to lower Greyson down it’s very difficult he weighs 75 pounds so to lower him down like that is very hard,” says Kimball.
Kimball says during her powered changing table research, she found a site, Changing Stations UK. She assumed similar services provided in the states, but that wasn’t the case. She made several phone calls and built several relationships, making her the first person to get powered changing tables installed in the US. One of them is located in Doak Campbell Stadium at Florida State University.
“This actually lowers down to a point where a transfer can be made so when it gets to that level this will fold out and then it provides a waist-high working surface for anybody that would have a need for it that would be servicing the needs of somebody on the table itself,” says Assistant Athletic Director for FSU Event Management Stuart Pearce.
Kimball also managed to get two more installed in the Civic Center in Tallahassee also owned by FSU. But that’s not all. There are two more installed along I-10 in Jefferson County.
“She came to us with this good idea. It seemed very reasonable and very feasible and as a best practice..we wanted to be the first state in the country to start doing this at our rest areas,” says Dean Perkins.
In less than two years, Kimball managed to help install four powered changing stations in two different counties, but now she’s also helping make a positive impact, in the lives of many.
Kimball says she doesn’t get any grants to help fund these projects. She says her word of mouth has helped carry out what she calls a labor of love. She’s working to get government funding to support her universal changing places initiative.