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Mom Confessions Mom Confessions

Photo that broke a mothers heart...

Posted by on Jun. 14, 2013 at 1:59 AM
  • 270 Replies

When Anne Belanger received her son’s grade two class photo last month, she immediately stuffed the image back into its envelope in disgust.

In the photo, the students and teacher line up neatly in three rows. But one student is missing from the group.

There, in the far right edge, her son Miles Ambridge sits in his wheelchair, separated from the rest of his classmates by an empty space on a bench. Despite the obvious gap, the seven-year-old beams for the camera, craning as far to the side as his tiny body will allow to be closer to his friends.

While she can hardly stand to look at the photo, Belanger is overcome with anger and sadness when she does.

“Look at the angle that he was in,” said the New Westminster mom, her voice a whisper as she fought back tears. “He’s ostracized. He wants to be part of the gang so much.”

Miles has spinal muscular atrophy, a genetic disease that attacks nerve cells in the spinal cord, causing muscles throughout the body, especially in the arms and legs, to weaken. The disease does not affect cognitive abilities.

Miles was diagnosed at just 13 months, when doctors told his parents their boy would never walk.

Living in a wheelchair, Miles has already faced more challenges than any young child should have to deal with, said his father Don Ambridge. That’s why it was all the more frustrating to see Miles excluded from the group in what should have been a simple class photo, he said.

Ambridge, who was the first to see the photo, said the image made him feel humiliated for his son.

“For some reason it makes me feel even worse that he’s so happy in the picture,” he said. “I think it’s because he’s still innocent ... He’s still naive to how other people can treat him.”

Miles’ parents have decided to keep the photo from their son, who hasn’t seen the picture. Belanger said Miles is “profoundly aware that he’s different than his peers.” If he saw it, she thinks he would be deeply hurt.

But his parents still wanted to bring attention to the photo in a bid to shed light on discrimination, which they said is still a daily reality for people with disabilities.

Belanger posted the photo to the photography company’s Facebook page. Lifetouch Canada removed the photo with a message that it was taken down due to privacy laws, but that they had sent it to their head office.

Not satisfied with their response, Belanger posted the photo again with the other children’s faces blacked out. Meanwhile, Miles’ dad sent the photo back to his son’s school, Herbert Spencer Elementary, requesting it be thrown out. When school principal Tracy Fulton received the returned photo, she said she immediately contacted Lifetouch as well.

Still, Fulton said the company didn’t immediately see anything wrong with the photo. It took some coaxing until Lifetouch agreed the separation of Miles from his class was a mistake and offered to retake the photo, she said.

“You want to think that they just made a mistake and they weren’t willing to correct it,” said Fulton. “But in the meantime, the parents were really hurt by it.”

Miles’ mom said she blames both the photographer and the school for the gaffe. However, Fulton defended the school’s actions and said the photographer was solely to blame.

Fulton said none of the school staff had seen the photo before Miles’ father sent it back. At the photo shoot, she said his teacher, from her position, also couldn’t see the distinct gap between him and the rest of the class.

The photo was retaken earlier this week by another Lifetouch photographer. In the new photo, which his parents have not yet seen, Miles was taken out of his wheelchair and supported by a caregiver on a bench beside his classmates.

On Thursday, Lifetouch admitted their photographer made a mistake.

Dean Cochrane, manager for the Lifetouch office in Burnaby, said the company teaches its photographers to build the composition of photos differently when they work with people in wheelchairs.

“On this composition, it wasn’t done right,” he said. “This will be a learning experience for this photographer.”

Regardless, Belanger said the photo is discrimination and a reflection of a society that still attaches stigma to disability.

“Kids can be cruel but this comes from adults, which is even worse,” she said. “Adults should know better." 


Read more: http://www.theprovince.com/news/photo+that+broke+mother+heart/8523150/story.html#ixzz2WARFCQIT

by on Jun. 14, 2013 at 1:59 AM
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Replies (1-10):
bowribbonmama
by Ruby Member on Jun. 14, 2013 at 2:00 AM
8 moms liked this
Would it REALLY have killed them to put him in front of the empty spot? Poor boy :(
Posted on CafeMom Mobile
liss.n.chris
by on Jun. 14, 2013 at 2:01 AM
4 moms liked this
Adults are dicks.
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soon2bmomof2grs
by Gold Member on Jun. 14, 2013 at 2:03 AM

Why couldn't they have parted the front row and maybe some of the second so he could be right there with everyone else? SMH.

FlyingHottie
by Silver Member on Jun. 14, 2013 at 2:03 AM
1 mom liked this


I know. And the sad part is that was sent out to his whole class and not one parent said anything... 

Also the teacher should have stood up for him!

Quoting bowribbonmama:

Would it REALLY have killed them to put him in front of the empty spot? Poor boy :(



Mrs-Somerhalder
by Blake on Jun. 14, 2013 at 2:04 AM

I saw this on facebook.


Lazy ass photographer

2manydiapers
by on Jun. 14, 2013 at 2:04 AM
Although it is a large seat, I agree. Judging from the photo and space. He couldve had his seat from and center and a space left behind him. Children couldve easily scooted both ways.
Anonymous
by Anonymous 1 on Jun. 14, 2013 at 2:04 AM
5 moms liked this

Looking at this picture I see so many ways I could have made this work and I have never done professional photography in my life


Quoting bowribbonmama:

Would it REALLY have killed them to put him in front of the empty spot? Poor boy :(



britadams10
by on Jun. 14, 2013 at 2:04 AM
2 moms liked this

were they supposed to take him out of the chair and sit him on the bench? are they even allowed to do that? not saying this is right but how is it so wrong? I mean, did his parents write a letter before this was taken stating that he was to put taken out of his chair and put with the other kids? I had a girl with ms in my class all through elementary and middle school and she was never taken out of her chair for group shots and her parents didn't seem bothered.

katemckenzie
by Kate on Jun. 14, 2013 at 2:05 AM

Poor kiddo. :(

mrsrodgers0703
by Ruby Member on Jun. 14, 2013 at 2:05 AM
1 mom liked this
I don't understand why they stuck him off in the corner :( poor kid. They could've scooted the kids down a bit where there wasn't a gap. They even could've put him in front or something...
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