Mom upset with how son treated at family resort

Jack Boland/QMI Agency

Jack Boland/QMI Agency

Jenny Yuen, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 5:57 PM ET

TORONTO – A Toronto mom wants to know why her three-year-old with cerebral palsy wasn't allowed to go down a waterside during a recent visit to Great Wolf Lodge in Niagara Falls.

Laurel Towsley, 29, brought her family -- including her twins, daughter Evalisa and son Jayden, who was born with Level 2 cerebral palsy -- to the family resort Sept. 20 around 4:30 p.m. and was told by a female staff member that she was "not sure people with cerebral palsy can go down the slide."

"I told the girl, 'My son has cerebral palsy. Would it be OK when you open the gate to let a few other kids go down first?' because it takes him a minute to walk to where you sit down," Towsley said Friday. "The girl looked confused. I asked to speak to her manager and after over a half-hour later, never got to talk to anyone."

Prior to the trip, Towsley called the resort and asked if there was any issue bringing a child with the condition to the park. She said staff informed her as long as he met the height and safety requirements of the equipment, it would not be a problem.

Cerebral palsy can affect a person's mobility and Jayden requires an assistance walker to be mobile right now, but he likely need it for the rest of his life.

He was without his walker at the water park, but grasped onto the walls to support his legs and was tall enough to go down the slide.

Jayden's sister had already gone down the ride and their father, Maiker, was waiting at the bottom of the slide to meet him.

"I would never put Jayden in a position where he could be hurt," Towsley said. "I know what his abilities are. He goes down his slide at daycare."

The family left the water park after spending nearly $300 for an hour's time.

Towsley spoke to an aquatics manager by phone on the next day. She said she was offered a 25% discount on her next trip to Great Wolf, but not an apology or explanation as to why the incident occurred.

"His words were, 'Sometimes when you're training people, they slip through the cracks and sometimes they're not properly trained,'" she said. "Then, he said, 'Oh, are you looking for some type of compensation?' in a very condescending tone. You just bullied my son. I'm never coming back. I felt so degraded."

General manager Keith Simmonds Great Wolf Lodge Niagara Falls declined to comment on the situation without speaking with the customer, or elaborate on the resort's policies surrounding cerebral palsy.

"Safety for our guests is our number one concern," Simmonds said Friday.

Towsley wants the company to retrain their staff to be more compassionate to the needs of those battling cerebral palsy. She is also waiting for an apology and, with any luck, her money back.

"You've done everything to make the place wheelchair accessible (except for) the swimming area, which is why people come to Great Wolf Lodge and pay all that money to do so," she said. "That's horrible."

jenny.yuen@sunmedia.ca


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