Thursday, 06 October 2016 13:15

Down’s Syndrome boy, 4, ‘turned away from play centre’ because it was ‘unsuitable for children like him’

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A mum has claimed her young son who suffers from Down’s Syndrome was turned away from a play centre with staff saying it was ‘unsuitable for children like him’.

Simone Blount, from Warrington, said she and four-year-old son Stephen were turned away by a member of staff at the Mattel Play! Centre in Albert Dock. After queuing for 20 minutes, a staff member looked at Stephen, who uses a wheelchair, before saying the centre was unsuitable, Ms Blount claimed.
She said: ‘He was really excited when we first got in there because he is absolutely mad about Fireman Sam and there is Fireman Sam stuff everywhere. ‘The member of staff didn’t ask any questions about his ability or check with me to see what I thought, she just said that it was unsuitable and made an assumption based on just looking at him.’ Simone was offered a tour of the play park, but she claimed it felt like staff were trying to prove her wrong. She said: ‘It felt like she was just offering it to prove that it wasn’t suitable for him.
‘I walked out and another member of staff just looked at me awkwardly, they didn’t even try and rectify the situation.’ ‘Stephen was just absolutely heartbroken, he didn’t understand but he just knew he couldn’t go in. I had to tell him that he couldn’t go in because it was closing, he was so upset.
‘I don’t consider him disabled – the only thing that makes him disabled is places like this. ‘I feel like I had a glimpse into his future.’ A spokesman for Mattel! Play said: ‘[The claims] are not true. The staff member in question looked over her desk – which is quite tall – and saw what she thought was a baby in a pushchair. She later apologised for her mistake and offered to show the lady around.’
Mattel Play! posted a statement online which read: ‘We would like to respond to recent online comments suggesting a young child with Down’s syndrome was turned away from Mattel Play! Liverpool. ‘This was a case of misunderstanding, as our member of staff believed the child’s parent was enquiring about how suitable the play area was for a young baby who was unable to walk.’