SAVANNAH, Ga. — A Georgia mom on a crusade, she has a special needs child and she’s making a plea to the Department of Transportation. Her request, adult-changing tables at rest stops and public restrooms on major interstates.
Fifteen-year-old Nykiah Connelly lives with cerebral palsy. Recently, while Nykiah and her family were travelling home from an Orlando funeral, Nykiah had an incident. Scrambling, her mother tried her best to find somewhere to change her daughter’s soiled clothing, because there were no adult-changing rooms on the major interstate the family was travelling. As a last resort, her mother was forced to change her teenage daughter in the back of the family van in a parking lot.
“I did all I could to not cry because I didn’t want her to see me cry. I didn’t want her to see that I was hurt. I was completely hurt,” says Paula Connelly.
That’s Paula Connelly, a stay at home mom with her 15-year-old daughter Nykiah. Paula says she was heart-broken on August 6 when she and her family including two dogs were travelling home to Savannah from a funeral in Orlando.
“Round about Saint Augustine area Nykiah said that she had an accident in her pull up…so this was no ordinary accident,” says Connelly.
Paula says the family was travelling Interstate 95 at the time. She says her first idea was to stop at a hotel.
“A La Quinta Inn which is the same hotel chain that we had just checked out of in Orlando to see if they would allow us to use a bed in the hotel to change Nykiah,” says Connelly.
But Paula didn’t get the answer she had hoped for.
“She told me no and I even asked well can we use a bed of someone who had just recently checked out of their room..she told me no,” says Connelly.
Paula says she decided to go to an urgent care, but more obstacles presented themselves with this option too.
“We had to go 12 miles back South..we were heading North home,” says Connelly.
Under a tremendous of stress the family finally got Nykiah to the urgent care immediately trying to get help from the receptionist.
“If we could use a bed in the back to change my daughter she said the only way we can go to the back is if you check in to see the doctor,” says Connelly.
Paula says Nykiah had been sitting in her soiled clothing for about two hours before she did what she thought, was the best thing for her daughter.
“We have a wheel-chair accessible van where Nykiah’s wheel chair goes in there and we have space in the van but our thing was why should we have to lay her on the floor of the van to change her pull up..so since we weren’t allowed to use the bed at the care spot that’s what we did..right there in the parking lot of the care spot,” says Connelly.
Paula says she’s created a petition that she’s planning to present to the Department of Transportation. In just more than week, Paula has gotten more than 13,000 signatures. She’s trying to get 15,000 by the time her birthday rolls around, that date, September 23.
If you wish to sign the petition you can CLICK HERE.