Our communities are homes to people with a variety of needs, and there has, traditionally, been one reason why people living with Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis hesitate to shop in neighborhoods. Publicly accessible washrooms are a need for a variety of individuals, including people who live with Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, and other gastrointestinal disorders, as well as those with cancer or chronic conditions such as multiple sclerosis, diabetes, or Parkinson’s. In the past, retail shopping malls won the draw with their accessible facilities, but Crohn’s and Colitis Canada, together with the Gastrointestinal Society, and The Canadian Continence Foundation, is launching a new initiative – GoHere – that can help make our communities more inclusive, and keep local customers in our neighborhoods.
GoHere is a pilot initiative in Calgary to encourage local businesses to open up their washroom facilities to those suffering from Crohn’s, colitis, and other incontinence issues. “We want to reach out to small and medium sized businesses in the Calgary area to participate in the decal project. Businesses want to give back to their community and this is a way for them to increase their visibility within the incontinence community,” says Natasha Mistry, Crohn’s and Colitis Canada’s Manager of Public Policy and Stakeholder Relations, “there is no-cost involved and all it takes is to post a decal and open up washrooms.” The project has the potential to improve the quality of life for the estimated 7,500 Calgarians living with Crohn’s and colitis. It will also help countless other individuals living with disabilities, cancer, other chronic conditions, seniors, young children, and pregnant women.
With funding from The Calgary Foundation – a Foundation that nurtures caring communities and supports charitable organizations that serves the needs of the community – Crohn’s and Colitis Canada is partnering with organizations including the Gastrointestinal Society and the Canadian Continence Foundation to encourage Calgary businesses to post decals on their storefront windows. Decals will signal that washroom facilities are open and available. This initiative will educate and inform the business community about the immediate and urgent need of washrooms when living with these lifelong conditions.
“Working together with like-minded charities is a big step forward in helping these individuals,” says Gail Attara, national Chief Executive Officer of the Gastrointestinal Society, and a partner organization of the project. “The broader the collaboration, the greater community awareness about this important initiative,” she adds.
“It is a well kept secret that millions of Canadians practice what is termed, ‘toilet mapping”, by which they cannot leave their homes unless they know where there are toilets they can access en route to their destination. The Washroom Decal project will definitely assist those who need ready access to toilets,” says Jacqueline Cahill, Executive Director of The Canadian Continence Foundation and another partner organization of the project.
The GoHere Washroom Access Initiative is a project that will engage local businesses and recruit volunteers with a passion to make change in their own local communities. Businesses that participate will have free advertising space to showcase their logos at www.go-here.ca, and their locations will be added to a (soon-to-be-released) free GoHere mobile App that identifies washrooms in local vicinities across the country. Through the GoHere App, Washroom Access Cards will be virtually available to serve as medical alerts for people with Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis to identify themselves when entering business locations. If successful, this project will expand to other regions of the country.
If you represent a business in Calgary, or anywhere else in Canada, and are interested in learning more about GoHere, please visit www.go-here.ca and order free decals. Partnering organizations will encourage their communities to support businesses that participate.