It’s the age old adage: When you’ve got to go, you’ve got to go.
For the approximately quarter-million Canadians living with Crohn’s Disease and ulcerative colitis, not to mention the many more who deal with other gut-related issues, having to go has a whole other meaning.
That’s why Crohn’s and Colitis Canada [CCC] continues to promote their GoHere campaign.
Full disclosure: I have ulcerative colitis and have dealt with it in numerous phases over the course of nearly 10 years. IBD is a disease without a cure and is growing faster among Canadians than nearly anywhere else in the world.
The GoHere campaign is multi-faceted and is incredibly easy to partake in if you run a business. You should because the mental and physical welfare of a fellow human being may hang in the balance.
Here’s a testimonial submitted to CCC which perfectly sums up why the GoHere campaign exists:
“Living with colitis means being close to a washroom wherever you go and it dramatically alters your lifestyle. I need to plan my daily activities based on the availability of a washroom. It also makes it awkward when I have to explain to others why I need to excuse myself on a moment’s notice. It is something I don’t want to share with people I just met.”
Signing up for a GoHere decal to place on your storefront is easy and you can do so HERE. (Pssst, it’s free)
CCC has also developed a GoHere mobile app which allows users aka those with IBD to access a map which uses GPS to show how close one is to a GoHere location. The app also enables users to populate the map with other information on washrooms and describe the facilities. As well, users can load a digital washroom access card which has multiple purposes. It not only allows one to provide proof of a medical need for a washroom and acts as a safeguard for someone who enters a business not yet participating in GoHere, but it can also be used as a discreet way to say ‘I need a washroom.”
If you’ve read this far, it should be fairly clear why, from a physical standpoint, you should open up your washroom to someone with IBD if they come in your door needing one. What some find harder to understand, and reasonably so, is the mental aspect.
Having an accident as a grown adult can send you into an emotional tailspin that could last for months and ultimately send your disease into an even more troublesome state than it was already in. It can become a vicious, vicious circle.
You may not be fond of the public using your business’s loo for safety reasons or it might just be one meant for staff, but to that person who runs through your doors, knees weak, cheeks clenched and on the verge of crying, your toilet is their final lifeline.
Ultimately, it’s about compassion and putting yourself just a little bit in that person’s shoes. They didn’t ask to have major gastro-intestinal issues. Like the man who submitted the testimonial said, for a lot of sufferers, it comes down to a decision each day between staying home where there’s a guaranteed toilet waiting for the moment you need it, or going out to run your daily errands or heading to work and risking yourself having to go while you’re in a car or nowhere near a public washroom.
Life becomes so much easier for an IBDer who can, at a moment’s notice, look to the nearest building or business and say, “I can go in there and use the washroom if I absolutely need to and I know I won’t be judged or questioned as long I just explain that I have IBD.” Plus, no one should be forced to live their life confined to the walls of their home because they have a fear of not being able to "hold it."
Of course anyone can have an emergency and I would encourage allowing those people to use your washroom as well. No reasonable person is going to openly fake having a washroom emergency.
So please sign up and let’s make sure those who need to, are able to GO anywhere.
Notable statistics (via a 2011 national survey conducted by Crohn’s and Colitis Canada):
· 44% of English and 39% of French respondents have had an accident in public due to washroom inaccessibility;
· 53% of all respondents had to negotiate or share private details of their condition to use washrooms;
· 78% of English and 75% of French respondents have chosen to stay home during a flare-up for fear of not being able to access a washroom;
· 33% of English and 23% of French respondents said the fear of having an accident has influenced their career choices;
· Currently, 230 individual businesses plus 420 Husky locations are signed up for GoHere across Canada, including 42 businesses in Alberta.
More information on the GoHere program and about Crohn's and Colitis Canada can be found HERE.
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