Between the presentation and other activities, there was a lot going on at the Los Angeles March for Science on Saturday – but Veronica Galen wasn’t paying attention to any of that.
She was walking around Pershing Square looking for families with young kids to point out the family tent she had set up, where there were diaper changing stations, shaded seats for moms who were breastfeeding and free water.
This is the third event where Galen had volunteered to run a resource like this. She first got the idea at the Women’s March last year.
“When I was marching, I saw a lot of women with very young children, like under two years old, changing their diapers and breastfeeding and feeding their babies on the sidewalk,” she said.
So she spent $100 on supplies and started contacting different march organizers offering to run what for the March for Science called a “family tent.”
In one corner, there was a folding table with three changing pads. There were also four camping chairs with armrests and popup side tables for moms breastfeeding. On the other side, there were science crafts for older siblings to do while parents were taking care of the baby.
“You don’t know that you need it until it’s your life,” she explained. And up until very recently, it was her life. Galen’s sons are two and four years old.
Jennifer Wheeler, the managing director for the March for Science in L.A., is a relatively new mom herself. “There’s definitely an awareness around the needs of parents when you are one,” she said.
Wheeler also wanted to make sure that parents have the ability to participate in this march and other similar events, even if they have young kids. “As a working or not working parent, to spend your Saturday away from your kids to go to an event like this just doesn’t make sense.”
And the parents at the March for Science were thankful. Ashley Bennett heard about the tent by word of mouth. She has seven-month old twins, and if it hadn’t been available, she would have “sat down in the hot sun somewhere, and just hooked up the pump, or left.”
Bennett and her husband Micah were the first parents in the tent, where they changed and fed the twins. “It’s really nice, especially the changing table and the water,” she said. “It really was a lifesaver.”
Mom Yang Zheng agreed.
“It’s hard to take kids to places and take care of them and find a good spot for them, so it was really nice to have a changing area and to have water and activities for the kids,” she said. “So it keeps the kids happy. It keeps the adults happier.”
Zheng added: “I wish there was something like this everywhere.”
Galen sees no reason why something like this can’t be everywhere. In her perfect world, other people would see what she’s doing and pitch their own family tent for events they care about, too.
“It doesn’t take a lot to put this together,” she said. “I mean everything that I have here I put in the trunk of my car, I carried it up here by myself and I set it up in 15 minutes.”
Still, Galen’s going to keep providing these spaces as long as she is able. “I definitely feel like this is my activism. I feel like this is something I want to promote to everyone,” she said.
Galen doesn’t have any more events on her calendar yet and she’s open to opportunities, but that’s not her main goal. She just hopes event organizers become aware of the needs of parents who want to join in on the protest with their kids.