Iowa DOT up for national award for Adult Changing Table project

Iowa DOT up for national award for Adult Changing Table project
Published: Sep. 26, 2023 at 4:06 PM CDT
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - A project to help make travel easier for people with disabilities is up for a big award that will benefit an Iowa non-profit.

The Iowa Department of Transportation is in its second year of a four-year plan to put adult changing tables in rest stops around Iowa. Now the Iowa DOT is up for a national award from America’s Transportation Awards for the project.

The people get to decide which Department of Transportation’s project wins, so everyone around the U.S. can vote on their favorite project. The winner gets $10,000 to donate to the charity of their choice.

”It was the right thing to do,” said Michael Kennerly, Iowa DOT Director of Design Bureau.

The Iowa Department of Transportation has been working for two years to install adult changing tables throughout Iowa rest stops.

”The reality is that when you, when you go into a restroom, most restrooms have ADA stalls, but it’s not intended to help a person who has an adult size individual who they need to take care of their personal needs. There’s no place to place them except on the floor,” said Kennerly.

Now their project is up for an America’s Transportation Award.

And if they win, they’ll donate their $10,000 prize to the ARC of Iowa.

”We’re really excited that the Department of Transportation. Bought into this really important issue and decided to make those changes,” said Theresa Lewis, Executive Director of The ARC of East Central Iowa.

Theresa Lewis, Executive Director of The ARC of East Central Iowa said this project is an important step in paving the way to equity.

”Imagine that you have a child with special needs, who, when you’re trying to take a trip to see relatives or go on vacation. You walk into a public restroom and you have to change that child on the floor. It’s not a very dignified way, and it’s not how we want to treat our most vulnerable residents of the state and their caregivers,” said Lewis.

And while the DOT said it was originally brought to their attention because of failed legislation requiring adult changing tables, they said places like the ARC and advocacy groups like Changing Spaces helped them realize it was something that was much needed across the state.

”What we’re really hoping to do is to provide that award, if we win, to the ARC of Iowa and in you know, in the name of circle of connection because they were instrumental in helping us understand what we didn’t know about how to make this work,” said Kinnerly.

Nancy Baker Curtis has been an advocate for adult changing tables since 2017.

At the time she was living outside of Chicago and driving back to Des Moines every weekend to help her dad take care of her mom who had suffered from several strokes.

She would travel with her then two-year-old son who has mental and physical disabilities and found it difficult to find a safe space to change him on the trip.

She joined the advocacy group Changing Spaces and helped try to get legislation passed to require adult changing stations.

When that legislation failed, the group and others like the ARC of Iowa turned to the Iowa DOT itself.

“No one should be tethered to their homes by their restroom needs. The Iowa Department of Transportation is such an example of servant leadership and really helped expand access for 60,000 Iowans,” said Baker Curtis.

So far, the DOT has installed or are in the process of installing 5 tables throughout Eastern Iowa including in Iowa, Johnson, Linn, Story and Adair counties along I-80 and I-380. They hope to complete five more by the end of the fiscal year.

To vote for the Iowa DOT’s Adult Changing Table Project you can click here.