Wednesday, October 28, 2015

The Barefoot Challenge

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Ever wonder how you change a disabled child's incontinence underwear and diapers of Noah's age and size?  Wonder how we change his clothes or pants if he gets sick and vomits on himself, or dribbles food on his pants and shirt and needs to be changed while we are out?  Or how we change his clothes when he's been at the pool and is wet? We can't fit him on a baby changing table anymore.  He's too big.  For parents like me we, sometimes can use a wheelchair if it reclines but that is also very difficult to do.  Special needs families are often left to the only choice possible the stall of a bathroom floor. 

Can you imagine how that feels to have to lay your child down on a dirty, yucky, often soiled and soaked urine covered floor? Knowing this is the only choice you have to change your child.  It's a terrible feeling.  Sometimes we can find places like an office if someone takes pity on us, sometimes a first aid station... but in many cases we can't and we're on our own.  At restaurants, at grocery stores, at sporting events, the theater, the zoo... we could be anywhere having to do the best we can, which leaves many of us at the mercy of a public bathroom stall floor. 

A little over a year ago I wrote about a little girl and her mother that I tried to help at the zoo when she was changing her disabled child on the bathroom stall floor and the toilet next to them backed up and overflowed and flowed under to their stall, covering her daughter's hair in sewer water.  To this day I still think about that moment every time I go to the zoo and pass that particular bathroom.  My heart is still heavy from the memory of that happening.  And I think about that mom and little girl often and wonder how they are doing.  Change only happens if we work hard at it.  If we are loud enough to get the world to hear us.  If we ban together for a cause, and talk about it. 

Yesterday I was challenged to participate in The Barefoot Challenge - a challenge where you go barefoot in a bathroom.  Would you want to take your shoes off and walk around in a public bathroom?  Pretty gross thought right?  Now would you want to lay your own child down on a floor that you don't want to even take your shoes off on?  I'm guessing the answer would be no.   Moms all over the world are accepting the challenge to take pictures of their bare feet in bathroom stalls to help bring awareness to the need for a Space to Change

The UK is far ahead of the US with this movement.  And we need to start lighting a fire here right here in our own backyard.  We need to be demanding Spaces to Change at local airports, at grocery stores, business, restaurants, large event centers... we need to be able to change our children with dignity and respect.  Not on the floor of a bathroom stall.  They are not lesser, they deserve better.  I hope you all join me in participating in The Barefoot Challenge.  You don't even have to have a child with special needs to show your support.  Get out there take off those shoes and take a picture and post it with the hashtag #barefootchallenge

And feel free to challenge all your closest friends and ask them to take a picture in support of this movement.  Together we can make a difference.  I want to show you all how we can inspire change if we work together for a common cause.  Join me in helping make these changes for children with special needs like Noah. 

To download your campaign kit and learn more about the Space to Change Campaign click here


Noah's Miracle by Stacy Warden is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.