EKNA leading campaign to bring changing tables to neighborhood businesses
By Melissa Komar
What do parents pushing strollers and restaurants in East Kensington have in common?
Well, not all the restaurants.
And unlike the tiny humans in the strollers, the eateries aren’t exactly producing the soiled garments.
But, some residents are hopeful local dining spots will soon provide areas to keep babies’ bottoms clean.
The East Kensington Neighbors Association is leading a campaign to have all restaurants and any other businesses in its boundaries have changing tables available for families.
Nic Esposito has lived within EKNA boundaries for seven years and is president of the association.
He is also a parent to a 3-year-old son and his wife, who has lived in the area for 10 years and is pregnant with their second child.
His firsthand perspective, along with other board members who have young children, helped the civic association identify the need for changing tables in the neighborhood.
“There are a lot of babies in EKNA right now. It’s a growing neighborhood,” Esposito said. “My experiences are there is nothing worse than having to change your kid on the floor of a bathroom. It’s just gross. It may be a little wet and you don’t want to have that experience. You just take whatever is available, and if it doesn’t happen to have a changing table, you’re changing them on the floor.”
Fellow EKNA board member Dimitri Mavroudis shared a similar experience.
“I can tell you that as a first time parent to a 16 month old, I was excited that my neighborhood was so parent friendly and had so many wonderful local businesses I could take my newborn and expand my social network,” he said. “However, when I would need to step aside to change a diaper, often I would come across restrooms without a changing station. As a parent, changing a baby isn’t the easiest thing to do, and not having a clean designated space to change your child can be daunting. No parent wants to leave their child in a soiled diaper or leave a venue simply because there is no changing station.”
Esposito pointed out one of the perks of the neighborhood is the number of family friendly bars, citing Martha on York Street as an example.
“I love going to Martha. You can take your kids there and they can run around in the back courtyard,” Esposito said, “and one of the bathrooms actually has a changing table.”
EKNA board members started bouncing the idea around in January and decided to follow through with the changing table campaign at their June 1 meeting.
EKNA first approached business owners who were parents, expectant parents or proprietors of more kid-friendly locations that do not have changing tables.
One business that wants to add a changing table is Little Baby’s Ice Cream on the 2300 block of Frankford Avenue.
“We would very much like to work with EKNA to get one of these stations in the bathroom of our World Headquarters,” said Pete Angevine, owner of the ice cream shop. “We are a very family friendly business with a very kid-centric shop, and while we always recognized how great it would be to have one of these stations, we simply couldn’t afford to install one when we were first starting out. We think EKNA’s effort is great and will be very much appreciated by our guests and larger community.”
Having run his own business, Esposito also spoke about how a changing table might be a cost-prohibitive item when a business is first opening, but it’s one the civic association is willing to cover.
EKNA will completely cover the cost of the changing tables for any businesses that want to have one added to their bathroom. Funds come from various fundraisers and member donations. EKNA will make a bulk order — within the next couple weeks — for changing tables, and businesses will be responsible for the cost of installation. More orders will be placed according to business needs.
The criteria for a business to receive a changing table is relatively simple: It must fall within the boundaries of EKNA, the business should make the request and the bathroom should be open for public use.
Example businesses include restaurants, bars and coffee shops, but can be any other business fitting the criteria.
For EKNA, it’s just a matter of doing its civic duty.
“It’s a great example of what the neighborhood association should be doing,” Esposito said. “We aggregate a lot of resources and then we reinvest back into our community. We like to call EKNA a community of action, and we just want to get as much done as we can.”
For more information on the EKNA changing table campaign, email firstname.lastname@example.org.