Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Mother heartbroken after son in wheelchair left to the side in class photo

Anne Belanger was heartbroken when she discovered her son had been placed off to the side in his class photo. “I couldn’t comprehend how the photographer could look through the lens and think that this was good composition . . . this just boggled the mind,” she said. In the photo, the class is arranged in three rows, with the teacher standing on the left.

To the far right is 7-year-old son Miles Ambridge. He’s leaning from his wheelchair, an empty space separating him from his classmates. “Being picked on and being set aside is horrendous and this was what was happening,” said Belanger, of New Westminster, British Columbia, Canada. Looking at the photo, she said questioned why nothing was done or discussed in trying to include Miles in the picture. “The only alternative seemed to be to set him aside,” Belanger said.

She said that being in a wheelchair comes with an additional set of challenges for Miles, who was diagnosed with spinal muscular atrophy at 13 months, a genetic disease that attacks nerve cells in the spinal cord. Miles’ father Don Ambridge, who saw the photo first, was disgusted and appalled and demanded that Herbert Spencer Elementary School ask the company to retake the picture. Belanger said discrimination is still a daily reality for people with disabilities and she wanted to shed light on the stigma surrounding it.

“This was not a malicious act, I don’t think it was done on purpose. I just don’t think there was any rational thinking behind it,” Belanger said. Miles’ parents have opted not to show the photo to their son. Belanger said Miles is “aware that he’s different, he’s aware that he’s in a wheelchair” and they were trying their best not to hurt his feelings.  A spokesman for the school could not be reached for comment.


Brixter said...


The bench was there so the wheelchair couldn't be placed closer to the side.

SteveC said...

Of course they could have just put one row of kids standing on the floor(with the child in the wheelchair in the middle), then each row going back standing, not sitting. Or even put the first row sitting on the ground. Or don't even use the shagging steps at all. This sort of thing is easy to figure out and kids aren't left out.

Gareth said...

Brixter, the last kid on the bench is sitting a foot or so from the end. Why didn't they sit the last kid right at the end of the bench? That way the gap would be less obvious. Furthermore if you look at the other end of the bench you will see the teacher is standing behind the bench. How hard would it have been to position Miles behind the bench at his end? Stop making excuses for these idiots.

Accidental? I'm not so sure. Is it mere chance that this composition makes it easy to trim Miles out of the finished picture? I hope it is just chance, but my cynical side says not.

Anonymous said...

Overreact much?

Anonymous said...

I can promise you they jump through every hoop imaginable to include that boy in class and school activities. If you look at a special needs child wrong the parents usually flip the hell out. It is what it is. They just centered up the kids in the bleachers and got him as close as they could. I'm sure no one in their right mind was thinking let's put wheels to the side away from all the bi-peds.
They're really not teaching that kid any life skills by making everyone/thing bend to accomodate him in all sitations .

Anonymous said...

This is why God created Photoshop. Use it!

Anonymous said...

I'm a photographer and I can tell you that this is another case of schools using crappy photographers for school pictures. Move the entire class to the right and have the teacher stand behind the wheelchair so that the child feels included. Now you have a symmetrical image and no on is left feeling like less of a person.