The new fully accessible bathroom in Takapuna includes an overhead lift, height-adjustable sink and adult-sized changing table, and a toilet with space on both sides.
The opening of an accessible bathroom on Auckland’s North Shore will create inclusion for those who normally feel left out, says the mother of a disabled teenager.
The bathroom and changing room opened Monday at Gould Reserve near Takapuna Beach Reserve and Playground.
Facility features include a height-adjustable adult changing table and washbasin, overhead lift, shower, handrails and toilet with space on either side for two attendants to assist the user.
The bathroom can only be accessed by people registered with the Changing Places NZ charity, so those who don’t really need it won’t damage or injure the equipment.
Those who register for an access tag for a one-time fee of $120 also have access to the other three restrooms in the changing area network, located at Westfield Newmarket, Hamilton Gardens and Rotokauri Transport Hub. Two more are planned for Mt. Maunganui and Dunedin.
Devonport resident Kimberly Graham, whose 17-year-old son Finlay Butcher has athetoid cerebral palsy, previously said a lack of fully accessible bathrooms in New Zealand made it difficult for her family to get out and enjoy activities together.
North Shore resident Kimberly Graham, whose 17-year-old son Finlay Butcher has cerebral palsy, says Auckland’s inaccessibility mostly prevents the family from being out and about.
The new bathroom in Takapuna meant the family could take a bus or bike to the beach and playground and spend more time there without worrying about what they would do when Finlay needed to use the bathroom, she said.
The bathroom created inclusion for those who typically felt isolated because their toileting needs weren’t being met, Graham said.
“The freedom that a restroom like this gives is immense,” she said, adding that Finlay would now be able to join a group of disabled teenagers who regularly met after school in Takapuna.
Kimberly Graham says Changing Places’ new bathroom in Takapuna will create inclusion for her 17-year-old son Finlay Butcher, who has athetoid cerebral palsy.
“That will do [Takapuna] a destination for many people who need these facilities. They will think more about going there because their needs will be met.”
The bathroom block was funded by the Devonport-Takapuna Local Board to replace the previous facility, which required such a significant modernization that it made more sense to build new, said Chair Ruth Jackson.
Local philanthropists Christopher and Jackie Reeve then contributed $200,000 to the project, which allowed the Changing Places bathroom to be added.
The bathroom can only be accessed by people registered with Changing Places NZ for a one off fee of $120 which also gives them access to other bathrooms in the Changing Places network.
Changing Places NZ founder Jenn Hooper said she was thrilled that the local board had seen the value the bathroom would bring to the disabled community.
“Everyone wins when our entire community is valued and included,” she said.
“We are confident this will be the start for many in the Auckland area and hope this could be the next step [Auckland Council] Create a policy that includes these spaces as ‘business as usual’.”
The Reeves also contributed $500,000 to the Takapuna Beach Playground, which opened in 2016. They would also like to fund a second playground in place of the old bathroom block, which is currently being demolished.
The new playground would focus on children with disabilities, with accessible equipment, Jackson said.
The local board also planned to improve the connection between the reserve and the Takapuna Beach Mat, which allowed wheelchair users to access the beach.