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Mom Confessions Mom Confessions

Photo that broke a mothers heart...

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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
Replies (31-40):
.Milfshake.
by SoNastySoRude on Jun. 14, 2013 at 2:20 AM
1 mom liked this
Yep my dh had a few choice words with him needless to say he is no longer the principal


Quoting Lili0509:

 I hope people complained about it :/


Quoting .Milfshake.:

That's terrible something similar happened at the end of my childrens school year last year where this little girl who was wheel chair bound was recieving her award and the principal told her jump up on stage and get her award there was a dead silence in the room

 


Pushthruthepain
by on Jun. 14, 2013 at 2:21 AM
1 mom liked this
He's the closest he can get at the end of the bench.I help the photographets for our schools every year and they are not allowed to touch the students to get them out of chairs unless a care giver has perimission and is there to do it, it won't happen.But honestly I don't see the big deal.But that could be because I grew up with a good friend in a chair and we always took our pics like this.
rfhsure
by beast mode on Jun. 14, 2013 at 2:22 AM
5 moms liked this

I remember doing these photos in high school. I have a cousin who was confined to a wheelchair as well. The photos were arranged the same way. He was voted homecoming king, it's not like kids had a problem with him. I think that the mother is grieving about what her and her family are going through and is finding blame on other people because she's hurting. It's a natural response, but it's not the healthiest or best one. She is trying to protect her son, which is valid, but he looks happy. He doesn't appear discriminated against in the photo, and I think it would be more damaging to tell him that he is than say 'great photo!' and let it go. I think it will contribute to devaluing him and be more counterproductive than helpful.

Quoting imafuswb:

I agree. The photographers are given a specific set of instructions to follow regarding grouping and centering the kids. I feel sorry for the photographer more than I do for the family, honestly. He/she is going to be bashed up one side and down the other (and possibly fired) for doing the fastest/best thing they could think of in that situation. School photographers have a job to do, and it doesn't typically entail much "out of the box" thinking.

Quoting rfhsure:

these photographers are paid to get kids in and out as fast as possible, that is how they operate. The child would not have been able to sit on the bench. It's the photographers job to set them up as fast as possible, snap the picture, and go on to the next group. Having kids in these rows is the most common photo arrangement. the chair is very large and would not fit properly in the foreground of the photo. Yes there is a gap there, and it would be very challenging to be a parent to a child with this sort of illness. But this just does not look like an issue of discrimination to me. It's not like the kids walked in there and refused to sit by him. They likely walked in in a straight line and were instructed to sit in rows by height. This isn't discriminating, it's standard for elementary school photography.


sandra_t00
by ChaChi on Jun. 14, 2013 at 2:23 AM
Yup.

Quoting Anonymous:

This. It wasn't a case of discrimination. It is merely that the chair is bulky and the photographer is required to get in and out of the school as possible. The parents are making out to be more than it was.



Quoting rfhsure:

these photographers are paid to get kids in and out as fast as possible, that is how they operate. The child would not have been able to sit on the bench. It's the photographers job to set them up as fast as possible, snap the picture, and go on to the next group. Having kids in these rows is the most common photo arrangement. the chair is very large and would not fit properly in the foreground of the photo. Yes there is a gap there, and it would be very challenging to be a parent to a child with this sort of illness. But this just does not look like an issue of discrimination to me. It's not like the kids walked in there and refused to sit by him. They likely walked in in a straight line and were instructed to sit in rows by height. This isn't discriminating, it's standard for elementary school photography.

imafuswb
by ★Rainbow Brite★ on Jun. 14, 2013 at 2:24 AM
I agree. They should have just told him it was a great photo, remarked on how awesome his smile is, and asked him for his friends' names so they could write them on the back.

Quoting rfhsure:

I remember doing these photos in high school. I have a cousin who was confined to a wheelchair as well. The photos were arranged the same way. He was voted homecoming king, it's not like kids had a problem with him. I think that the mother is grieving about what her and her family are going through and is finding blame on other people because she's hurting. It's a natural response, but it's not the healthiest or best one. She is trying to protect her son, which is valid, but he looks happy. He doesn't appear discriminated against in the photo, and I think it would be more damaging to tell him that he is than say 'great photo!' and let it go. I think it will contribute to devaluing him and be more counterproductive than helpful.

Quoting imafuswb:

I agree. The photographers are given a specific set of instructions to follow regarding grouping and centering the kids. I feel sorry for the photographer more than I do for the family, honestly. He/she is going to be bashed up one side and down the other (and possibly fired) for doing the fastest/best thing they could think of in that situation. School photographers have a job to do, and it doesn't typically entail much "out of the box" thinking.



Quoting rfhsure:

these photographers are paid to get kids in and out as fast as possible, that is how they operate. The child would not have been able to sit on the bench. It's the photographers job to set them up as fast as possible, snap the picture, and go on to the next group. Having kids in these rows is the most common photo arrangement. the chair is very large and would not fit properly in the foreground of the photo. Yes there is a gap there, and it would be very challenging to be a parent to a child with this sort of illness. But this just does not look like an issue of discrimination to me. It's not like the kids walked in there and refused to sit by him. They likely walked in in a straight line and were instructed to sit in rows by height. This isn't discriminating, it's standard for elementary school photography.


Lili0509
by on Jun. 14, 2013 at 2:25 AM

 They should change the policy or whatever then. I would've just moved all the kids down to the edge of the seats so there wouldn't be a gap there.

Quoting Pushthruthepain:

He's the closest he can get at the end of the bench.I help the photographets for our schools every year and they are not allowed to touch the students to get them out of chairs unless a care giver has perimission and is there to do it, it won't happen.But honestly I don't see the big deal.But that could be because I grew up with a good friend in a chair and we always took our pics like this.

 

britadams10
by on Jun. 14, 2013 at 2:25 AM

oh yeah, i can definitely understand that. when I was in school these things didn't seem to be issues but now as it seems like more children have more disabilities, I can definitely see why the mother got upset. especially with that gap between him and the other kids.


Quoting softkitty42:


they have also changed alot since i was in elementary school, so what was okay then isnt now ykwim?

Quoting britadams10:

ahh ok i see, I didn't read the entire post. I didn't know if the mom expected them to take him out of his chair bc some schools might have policies about touching the kids


Quoting softkitty42:



Quoting britadams10:

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.

theres many ways they could have worked it out for he didnt have to be moved from the wheelchair

and every school is different in mine we had kids in wheelchairs and the teachers moved them to be part of the class shots








debbie26
by Debbie on Jun. 14, 2013 at 2:25 AM
What assholes to do that to that poor Lil boy but I'm glad they retook the pic and his smile in this one just shows what a happy Lil boy he is
Anonymous
by Anonymous 4 on Jun. 14, 2013 at 2:25 AM
2 moms liked this
I guess I'm weird. I don't see the problem. Sure, the photographer could have figured out how to get him closer to the other kids. But, I don't think its a big deal. The kid smiling with obvious happiness doesn't seem to mind. Why make a fuss? And post it or share it for the whole world to see and feel bad for him? That's way more humiliating.
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Rlmama00
by Silver Member on Jun. 14, 2013 at 2:29 AM
I think if the photographer had at least put him right next to the bench initially it would have been fine. What kind of dumbass photographer would take a group shot with one person several feet away? It was lazy and incompetent.

Quoting britadams10:

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.

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