When Donte Palmer posted the photo of him squatting against the wall to change his baby’s diaper in the men’s restroom almost a year ago, he didn’t realize it would start a movement.
As usual, Donte was squatting inside the men’s restroom with his two-year-old son, Liam, on his lap. He was changing Liam’s diapers in this position once again. His oldest son, 12-year-old Isaiah, took the photo that he would later post on Instagram.
“This is a serious post!!! What’s the deal with not having changing tables in men’s bathroom as if we don’t exist!!” Donte wrote on his Instagram account. “Clearly we do this often because look how comfortable my son is. It’s routine to him!!!! Let’s fix this problem!”
He decided to post it on social media with #squatforchange to get a reaction from his friends. But then, a popular Instagram account reposted his photo and it quickly went viral. It received almost 10,000 likes within eight months and was picked up by different local and national media outlets.
The viral photos inspired him to post more squatting photos, even posting one with Isaiah, teaching how to squat.
Eventually, he decided he used the #SquatForChange hashtag to challenge other fathers. Motivated by the response he got from his initial photo, he challenged other fathers to post their squatting photos, too, to get some real change happening.
“Fathers, post a picture of your Perfect man squat changing your babies! We will keep squatting until we get change!” Donte posted. “Tag husbands, fathers, brothers, uncles, friends! It’s time to get [these] changing tables in Every Restroom!”
And the fathers responded. And they got creative with their posts.
“When I first took the picture, it was something I posted in my own frustrations,” Donte told PEOPLE. “I just posted it for my family and friends. I never expected for it to get this big. But it has happened. So [my wife and I] decided to advocate for fathers. This is a huge issue.”
And the Squat for Change movement caught the attention of Pampers and Koala Kare. They have pledged to work with Donte and the movement and as well as provide the changing tables in men’s restroom.
“We are proud to announce our commitment to provide 5,000 changing tables for installation in public restrooms by 2021 to help address the inequality hands-on dads face when it comes to taking care of their babies,” Andre Schulten, Vice President and General Manager of Baby Care North America, Procter & Gamble, announced.
The first 500 locations have already been identified last June 2019 and completion of the installations of changing tables was expected to be completed in a few weeks.
They’ve even enlisted singer John Legend as the campaign’s ambassador, where he shares tips on how to change diapers without changing stations.
“Spending time out and about with my kids is one of the greatest joys in my life, but it’s frustrating when I am out with Miles and the men’s restroom doesn’t have a baby changing table,” John Legend said in a press release.
He further stated, in the Pampers video, that dads have to resort to all these maneuvers because there [are] no changing stations in men’s restrooms.
But, although Donte sparked a nationwide movement, he wasn’t the first father to complain about it.
Jacksonville City Council member John Crescimbeni said that his office had received a lot of complaints about the lack of changing stations in men’s restrooms.
In May 2019, he filed a bill requiring at least one of these tables must be available in “any building that is newly constructed or undergoes substantial renovation on or after Oct. 1, 2019., and that has a restroom open to the public.”
Crescimbeni was not aware of Donte Palmer, Squat for Change, and the partnership with Pampers and Koala Kare when he filed the bill. But he’s glad they both did it at the same timeline.
He said what Donte and the movement were doing was making his job easier.
And Donte is not stopping soon. He needs to do this for the “95 percent of fathers and mothers in the world who are advocating for more change.”
“I’m excited, I’m honored, I’m using the moment to teach my boys that if you have a dream, if you have an issue with something, open your mouth, chase it, go attack that thing you want and it’ll come,” Donte told Metro.
Watch the video below to hear Donte talk more about the movement.
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