This Mom Is Taking Selfies on the Toilet for an Important Reason
This December, Sarah Brisdion, a mom from Brockenhurst, U.K., is putting a new spin on traditional advent calendars by taking a selfie on the toilet everyday for 24 days. Each day, Brisdion shares her photo with the hashtag #LooAdvent and a fact regarding the need for accessible changing places. Brisdion’s 7-year-old son, Hadley, has cerebral palsy, so they know firsthand how difficult it is to find adequate public restrooms.
“The slight embarrassment I feel from sharing these photos is nothing compared to the indignity my son feels having to lie down amongst other people’s urine,” Brisdion told The Mighty. “It’s easy for me to take a photo. It’s not easy for my son to live with being discriminated against.”
As the mother of a child with a disability, Brisdion said she finds the lack of accessible public bathrooms “horrendous, undignified, unhygienic and dangerous.”
For the next 24 days, I'll be taking a 'festive' loo selfie to raise awareness of #ChangingPlaces toilets. It might seem undignified, but it's nothing compared to the indignity of lying on a public toilet floor when there is no bench and hoist in a disabled loo! #looAdvent pic.twitter.com/1FS82qxe3o
— Sarah Brisdion (@SazBrisdion) December 1, 2017
NEW #LooAdvent photo! Day 2. For 24 days, I'll be sharing a 'festive' loo selfie to raise awareness of #ChangingPlaces toilets. It might seem undignified, but it's nothing compared to the indignity of lying on a public toilet floor when there's no bench & hoist in a disabled loo! pic.twitter.com/FG0dZyCBVf
— Sarah Brisdion (@SazBrisdion) December 2, 2017
“People are just so uneasy about talking about what we do on the loo,” Brisdion wrote on her blog. “But because we don’t talk about them, because there is a stigma around toileting, it makes our job as campaigners really hard!”
Brisdion hopes her #LooAdvent calendar will break this taboo a bit. “We all need to pee!” she said, “It’s nothing to be ashamed of.”
**NEW PHOTO** Day 3 of #LooAdvent. Nobody should have to lie on a toilet floor to have their continence or sanitary items changed or be dangerously lifted to the loo without a hoist. Doing this for my son. I'll fight for his equality 'til the end! #ChangingPlaces #SundayBlogShare pic.twitter.com/9nRRlrZUWb
— Sarah Brisdion (@SazBrisdion) December 3, 2017
**NEW PIC** Day 4 of #LooAdvent for #ChangingPlaces. This might seem a little funny, but I can preserve my dignity and choose to share these photos. My son (age 7, with Cerebral Palsy) often has no choice but to lie on toilet floors to have his continence needs met. Please share. pic.twitter.com/VfPUEVYkzi
— Sarah Brisdion (@SazBrisdion) December 4, 2017
In addition to tweeting, Brisdion uses a Facebook page set up for her son to campaign for better accessible toilets and changing facilities. She also celebrates the places that get it right.
We have realized how much the world needs to catch up in order to be truly accessible to those with disabilities of all kinds, not just those with CP. On the suggestion of a friend, we thought we would set up a page to celebrate the places that we have discovered that we have really loved and that have been accessible and inclusive — particularly those that have adequate disabled toilet and changing facilities as they are crucial to us as a family. But then we came across a problem. There just aren’t enough of them! And so this has very much become a campaign community, to get better facilities for Hadley and the hundreds of thousands of other people in the UK living with disability, who face harsh toilet conditions that simply do not meet their needs, every single day.
Brisdion hopes her #LooAdvent campaign will inspire more businesses and places to install benches and hoists in their bathrooms. “I really hope it helps get more installed!” she said, “even if just one supermarket chain, one John Lewis store, one cinema or sports venue commits to installing better facilities I will be over the moon.”
So far, Brisdion’s campaign has captured the attention and support of Australian comedians, Adam Hills, Alex Brooker and Josh Widdicombe from the show, “The Last Leg.” The three joined Brisdion’s campaign with their own selfie on day nine. Paralympic champion, Hannah Cockroft, also contributed a selfie on day 12.
*NEW PIC DAY 9* of #LooAdvent courtesy of @TheLastLeg! Thanks to the amazing @adamhillscomedy @joshwiddicombe & @alex_brooker – not only are you raising huge awareness of the need for #ChangingPlaces toilets with benches & hoists, you've given me a day off with my family <3 <3 <3 pic.twitter.com/L4lULdM5S4
— Sarah Brisdion (@SazBrisdion) December 9, 2017
**DAY 12** of #LooAdvent is courtesy of the INCREDIBLE Paralympic athlete Hannah Cockcroft MBE! @HCDream2012 We all need to pee. Big retailers, sports & music venues, supermarkets, cinemas etc should all cater for their disabled customers with #ChangingPlaces. It's not difficult! pic.twitter.com/N7GmLB62Af
— Sarah Brisdion (@SazBrisdion) December 12, 2017
In addition to raising awareness, the #LooAdvent campaign also supports the Changing Places Consortium. The consortium advocates for more space and the right equipment, such as height-adjustable changing benches and hoists, for disabled people who cannot use standard accessible toilets.
Changing Places also has a U.S. presence, Universal Changing Places, led bySabrina Campbell, whose son has a disability. Like its partner in the U.K., Universal Changing Places’ goal is to make people aware of the need for powered height adjustable adult changing tables in public bathrooms.
**NEW PIC** DAY 6 of #LooAdvent One for the ladies. Would you lie on a toilet floor to change a sanitary towel or tampon? That's the harsh reality for disabled women & girls who need more than a standard toilet! Please share & help get dignity for all. PERIOD! #ChangingPlaces pic.twitter.com/aFALh93DIb
— Sarah Brisdion (@SazBrisdion) December 6, 2017
While Brisdion hopes her campaign raises awareness, she said she believes real change will only come when the government puts more pressure on businesses. In the U.K., that means creating new laws and enforcing the U.K.’s Equality Act 2010 which made changing places mandatory in large public buildings like those that sell food and drink.
**NEW PIC** DAY 8 of #LooAdvent…Is it chocolate or Poo? This is a genuine concern for so many disabled people, forced to lie on toilet floors to have their continence needs met. The only other choice is to sit in their own mess! It's 2017! We need more #ChangingPlaces NOW! pic.twitter.com/5xtfKvaDQ5
— Sarah Brisdion (@SazBrisdion) December 8, 2017
**DAY 10** of #LooAdvent We all pee, even elves. We're only human. But for hundreds of thousands of disabled people, the simple process of emptying their bladder is a horrendous experience. They need #ChangingPlaces toilets with bench & hoist to do it safely #Humanrightsday2017 pic.twitter.com/7GZqOuHJCn
— Sarah Brisdion (@SazBrisdion) December 10, 2017
Those interested can follow the rest of #LooAdvent on Brisdion’s Twitter.