The Changing Places facility will be sited at Hamilton Gardens, and is the result of a partnership between Hamilton mother Jenn Hooper and Hamilton City Council. Jenn, inspired by her profoundly disabled daughter Charley, has been working extensively for several years on bringing Changing Places to New Zealand. “With its worldwide reputation and the wide variety of social events and activities on offer year round, the Hamilton Gardens is the perfect venue to showcase these facilities,” Jenn says.
Standard accessible toilets don’t meet the needs of everybody. Changing Places are public bathrooms consisting of a height-adjustable adult sized change table and a hoist. Additionally, they also include a few extras, like privacy screens and enough space to allow for two caregivers. Jenn has led the vision and design of the Changing Places project and has praised the collaboration and partnership with the Council. “It’s fantastic to have full support from the Hamilton City Council for this truly community minded project. The Council was offered the opportunity to lead the country in providing facilities for all of the community – not just almost all – and responded with speed and enthusiasm,” Jenn says.
The Changing Places facility will be sited near the new Destination Playground at the gardens and enhances the visitor facilities available. “We pride ourselves on catering to all visitors and the construction of the Changing Places toilet reinforces that, allowing more people to enjoy the gardens,” says Hamilton Gardens Director, Dr Peter Sergel.
Construction of the Changing Places toilet has begun and is expected to be completed early in the New Year.
Changing Places was first established in the United Kingdom 11 years ago. They now have more than 1000 facilities of this kind nationwide. There are also more than 20 Changing Places in Australia. As a result of Jenn’s leadership, the Council’s support, and the generosity of sponsors including specialist equipment provider ArjoHuntleigh, New Zealand will proudly join the international Changing Places family.