I am quite sure that you can.
My nine year old child can’t. So we can’t either.
Two years ago Adam and I went to our local zoo for what would end up being the final time. He and I have spent many, many hours at Newquay Zoo. He loved the warty pigs best of all and watching them at feeding time was always a central part of any visit. As was the café. Great food, really great food! Ah, yes, it was the perfect day for us both.
My son, like everyone else, needs the toilet.
My son cannot sit unaided, stand or walk but he still needs the toilet.
Newquay zoo has a toilet with a wheelchair logo on the door but it is not quite large enough for a powered wheelchair to go in and shut the door, let alone be able to get a person out of their chair. So I had perfected (cobbled together) a way for him to use the toilet in the back of our car. We have a VW so it is bigger than most but it shrinks when you have a powered wheelchair in the back. Let alone a toilet chair, two carers and need space to lie your child on the floor.
This particular day was hot. Gorgeously hot.
Grandma was with us and we were having a lovely day out with friends.
Then Adam needed the toilet.
So we headed back to the car, got the back open, lift down, powered wheelchair in, lift up, door closed. We had to lift him from his chair, lie him on a mat on the floor of the car, sort clothes, lift him onto his toilet chair and, thankfully, we made to the toilet in time!
Or was it?
We are now in a hot car, on a hot day, with a child on a toilet which now has “contents”. Yet we need to get the child off the toilet, back to the floor, dressed, then back in his chair before we can open the door. Oh, and there is the small matter of the “contents”. On a hot, hot, hot day.
We are in a car park outside of the zoo area. The nearest toilets are inside the zoo. A hasty search to find enough bags to seal the “pot” and then the lovely journey through the gift shop, all the while hoping that we do not meet anyone who wants to talk to us and that the toilet is free so that I can finally end this horrendous nightmare.
That was a horrible day. I didn’t think it could get much worse. But it did.
As awful as this experience was, there was something worse.
We reached the stage where I could no longer lift him. The stage where it is no longer safe, and, in all honesty, it had never been dignified or right for him to use the toilet in the back of the car.
We can no longer go to the zoo.
Yet all he needs is a toilet which also has a bench and a ceiling hoist. This is all which is stopping so many children and adults from enjoying a day out.
A few weeks ago some post arrived for Adam. Inside was a family ticket for Newquay Zoo, gifted to him by a local charity. Adam was utterly thrilled! “Yay! We can go to the zoo!” He thought we were going to go immediately and I have not seen him this excited for a long time.
Every part of my being started to hurt.
Does he think we stopped going because we couldn’t get tickets?
I don’t know what to say to him.
I don’t know how to make this right.
There have been some discussions with Newquay Zoo and they are keen to look into ways to install a properly accessible toilet!
I have also been contacted by Keep It in Cornwall for Kids who want to help make it happen!
Cornwall has some wonderful people.
An open mind is all that is needed to get things started. I hope to have even better news to share soon.