Kids fight for Crohn’s and colitis sufferers

Fifty-seven kids have signed the petition to be sponsored by Trevor Mallard.

Relief may be on the way for the country's crohn's and colitis sufferers, thanks to a determined 12-year-old girl. 

Nicole Thorton has submitted a petition to parliament that would guarantee sufferers access to workplace bathrooms throughout New Zealand. 

Crohn's and colitis diseases cause inflammation to the bowel.

Richard Stein

The Camp Purple Life youngsters on their tour of the Parliament House, Wellington.

"This inflammation causes persistent diarrhoea, abdominal pain, bleeding and fatigue," gastroenterologist Dr Richard Stein said.

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There are approximately 15,000 people in New Zealand affected by the chronic illnesses.

If successful, the petition sponsored by Labour politician Trevor Mallard, would see a law change equivalent to Ally's Law in the United States. 

Stein said Ally's Law is named after American Ally Bain - a 14-year-old girl with Crohn's. 

Ally was denied access to the employee bathroom by a store manager in Chicago resulting in an embarrassing public incident. 

She turned that embarrassment into empowerment and Ally's Law has since been passed by 14 American states. 

Thorton's fight began at New Zealand's Camp Purple Live - a support break away for Crohn's and colitis youngsters.

Fifty-seven children attended the annual event at El Rancho Camp in Waikanae, from January 13 to 17.

On their tour of the Wellington Parliament House, a camp member asked the tour guide how to go about getting the House of Representatives to enact a law similar to Ally's Law. 

The tour guide - who coincidently also suffered from Crohn's - explained the legislative process. 

Thorton wrote the petition on her return to camp.

It was signed by all 57 campers, 30 camp volunteers, three doctors and four nurses. 

Camp volunteer Tamsyn Cornwall was diagnosed with Crohn's when she was eight years old. 

"The stress of knowing you may not be able to find a bathroom when you're desperate forces some people with Crohn's or colitis to restrict their movements.

"For some people it's actually paralysing.

"This law would be huge in terms of confidence for these kids," Cornwall said.

Currently, these sufferers are given a I Can't Wait card that states the holder has a medical condition and needs to use a toilet quickly.

"But this is not legally binding and access is commonly denied," Stein said. 

Under Ally's Law, businesses that violate the measure can be fined up to $US100. 

"We would like to see a penalty similar to this in New Zealand," Stein said.