A unique accessible toilet and changing table that can accommodate disabled individuals and young families at various local events made its debut at the San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo.
Introduced Feb. 20 at the stock show and rodeo, the mobile changing unit is a 24-foot trailer containing an accessible toilet, a changing table with adjustable height, a sink and a lift to move a disabled person from their wheelchair to the changing table.
Local disability community advocates said the mobile changing unit, branded ChangingSA, will be for use at various outdoor events and festivals, sporting events, concerts, and other community activities.
According to a news release, ChangingSA was developed thanks in part to a $100,000 grant that the organization Impact San Antonio awarded to nonprofit DisabilitySA.
Traci Lewand, founder of ChangingSA, championed development of the mobile changing unit as mother of a child, Mason, who at age 10 copes with various health issues and needs around-the-clock health care.
Traci said the mobile changing unit can make it a little easier for individuals and families as well as increase their level of dignity in public.
“I cry with joy. The ChangingSA mobile changing unit removes a significant barrier so that individuals with challenges may more fully engage in activities that can improve their health, connectedness and vitality,” Lewand said in a statement. “This is a great day for San Antonio, and we hope other cities throughout the U.S. adopt this important initiative.”
The mobile changing unit will be attended by trained staff and volunteers who will supervise its use, ensure cleanliness and safety, and offer assistance with use.
Melanie Cawthon, executive director and co-founder of DisabilitySA, said more than 200,000 individuals, or 15%, of the San Antonio area’s population of all ages and socioeconomic backgrounds are living with disabilities.
Cawthon said many individuals with disabilities are challenged with self-care needs and are unable to frequently or easily participate in community activities, such as the stock show and rodeo, due to lack of fully accessible toileting facilities.
The unit also features a handheld shower head and handlebars. The baby changing tables cannot safely accommodate persons taller than 35 inches or more than 50 pounds, the news release said.
The Americans with Disabilities Act-compliant portable toilets are too small for wheelchair turnarounds and transfers with caregiver assistance, the release added.
“The mobile changing unit will provide a much-needed solution to the challenges individuals and families in San Antonio face, and we are grateful for the financial support we received to purchase this mobile changing unit and to the leadership of the San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo for giving us the opportunity to have the unit on-site for a week to ensure everyone within the family or caregiving unit is able to enjoy meaningful and rich experiences together,” Cawthon said in a statement.
Mayor Ron Nirenberg applauded the launch of ChangingSA.
“San Antonio is a city of inclusion, and the ChangingSA vehicle is a transformative solution in helping bridge the gap of inclusion in our community for those who face disability challenges,” Nirenberg said in a statement.
ChangingSA will be used at DisabilitySA events and be available for hire by agencies to ensure fully accessible options at community resource and cultural events, including upcoming Fiesta activities, the release said.