Wheelchair Class Photo: Parents Angry After Disabled Child Is Separated From Classmates

Do you see anything wrong with the class photo above? A student in a wheelchair was separated from his class during a school photo at the Herbert Spencer Elementary School in New Westminster, B.C.

The second grade class is standing on the bleachers while seven-year-old Miles Ambridge is left off to the side in his wheelchair. Anne Belanger, Miles’ mother, said that she doesn’t believe that there was any malice behind the photo but said that the photo illustrates a larger problem.

Belanger posted the photo on the Facebook page for Lifetouch Canada, the company that took the photo, and asked why her son was pushed off to the side.

Belanger told the Toronto Star: “I couldn’t comprehend how the photographer could look through the lens and think that this was good composition. … [T]his just boggled the mind … Being picked on and being set aside is horrendous and this was what was happening.”

Miles’ father, Don Ambridge, said that he doesn’t believe that Lifetouch Canada was being discriminatory toward his son. Don did say, however, that the company showed a lack of understanding.

Ambridge said: “Discrimination to me implies malice. This was just a lack of awareness. It’s wrong, but it doesn’t mean it was intentional. It just means that somebody dropped the ball for a moment and that can be incredibly hurtful.”

Lifetouch regional manager Greg Tarapaski admitted that the photographer made a mistake. The company retook the class photo, this time with Miles and his wheelchair included with the rest of the students, and are working to get it to Miles parents by the end of the week.

Greg Tarapaski told the Province: “People make mistakes and unfortunately this one has had a very lasting effect on both of the parents, the school and Lifetouch.”

School principal Tracy Fulton didn’t comment on the wheelchair class photo but she did say that the school was no longer using Lifetouch for school portraits.