We love indoor playgrounds. They're places we take our kids and there's a local one we enjoy and take our kids to. They have been known to spend the entire day playing there and have a blast. But yesterday, according to Matthew Dupuis, his little girl Eloise was denied entry into a local play centre because she has to wear indoor shoes and ankle braces due to Cerebral Palsy.
According to a statement made on his Facebook page, Matthew claims that when he tried to explain to the owner that his daughter wears indoor shoes and ankle braces for support due to her Cerebral Palsy, he was told that this she could not wear her shoes/braces on the play structure as it could cause damage. He explained that they have been to the centre in the past and have always worn indoor shoes and they were told that they shouldn’t have been allowed on the play structure with shoes.
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Matthew took his daughter to a different indoor play centre where his daughter was allowed to play without issue.
According to the information posted on the play centre’s Facebook page there was a misunderstanding and they are committed to serving all customers including those with disabilities. Another post on the company’s Facebook page stated they are following up with the manufacturer of the play structure to confirm the safety of allowing shoes on the structure as the instructions they received were to allow socks only. The company’s Facebook page has since been taken down and is not accessible.
The backlash on social media was immediate, visceral, and passionate. The story has been sent to local media. Parents demanding a boycott of the play centre, calling names, and making accusations. I even saw one tweet demanding the owner be put in jail! I don’t think that demanding the centre be shut down, as some have called for, is necessarily the best response to such an incident. Publicly shaming the owner and the business is never the best solution, in my opinion. This should, however, absolutely be addressed and I question if reasonable accommodation is being made in order to allow this little girl the opportunity to play as any other child.
Denying entry into an establishment due to a disability is discrimination, period. It is 100% unacceptable, 100% of the time. It is heartbreaking to hear of a little girl being denied entry to play, of all things, simply because she needs a little extra support by the way of shoes and as a parent of a child with health issues, I can’t imagine how devastating this must be to her parents. Without knowing details of the incident, it seems to me a little confusing to state that wearing indoor shoes on a play structure would cause safety issues. When children play outside on a play structure in a park they wear shoes. Is there a big difference between outdoor play structures and indoor play structures? While I do understand why the owner would want to investigate any and all safety concerns, I don’t see how a request as simple as wearing special indoor shoes with braces is something that cannot be accommodated. This is a perfect example of when a policy can be easily altered to be inclusive of someone with special needs.
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Social media can be great in terms of gaining support and demanding change however let’s be careful not to use it to attack and abuse. Use it as a method to demand change. In this particular case, if the policy is not changed, then I would not be comfortable bringing my kids to an establishment that blatantly discriminates, however I am all for second chances. I am going to give the benefit of the doubt and assume that the owner really did have safety as her main concern, and not damage to her facility. I am going to assume that the owner now realizes that accommodating is her duty, not only by law, but she also has a moral responsibility to the children and members of her community.
It seems shocking to me that in today’s day we still have to have conversations about inclusion and accommodating in respect to disability but it seems like the conversation must continue. The silver lining in this cloud is that our community is backing this little girl and let’s make sure we continue to show her our support and demand change in a productive way.
We were singing away to some of the latest top 40 when I mentioned one of my favourite Michael Jackson songs. My daughter replied with “Who’s Michael Jackson?” Wait…what?! WTF? Who is Michael Jackson?! What do you mean? How on earth could MY child not know who MJ is? We then proceeded to have the best dance party we have ever had with a little MJ playing in the background. I watched the kids boogie down to Billie Jean and wondered how music that was once so important to me could be unknown to my children.
Some of the best fun I’ve had with my kids is introducing them to things that I loved when I was growing up. So much has changed in the time since I was little and life seems to have become so much more complicated and busy for kids today. My kids will never use a rotary phone, life without the internet, Netflix or cell phones has never existed. It’s such a great feeling to be able to share some of the simple pleasures of my youth with them and to revisit them through their eyes.
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Some things are absolutely better left in the past - I’m referring to you grungy flannel plaid pants of the 90’s, but some things really do deserve a second run.
I may or may not have cried, actual tears, the first time we all watched Annie together on movie night. I loved Annie growing up. I owned the soundtrack and can belt out every song in my sleep. As soon as the movie started, it brought back so many memories and watching my kids fall in love with it felt amazing. I’m not alone here. When our kids experienced their first viewing of the original Karate Kid; think Ralph Macchio not Jaden Smith, my son's excitement could barely be contained. The moment my daughter declared her love for Daniel-san, proudly declaring she was going to marry him, I could see his hidden grin.
Introducing my kids to Michael Jackson was an important step in their musical education as well as a peek into my musical childhood. I have always loved music and I can’t remember a time in my life where music didn’t play a huge role, so it is important for me to share my love with my kids. Certain songs and artists have the power to bring me right back to special times in my life and it’s wonderful to be able to carry my children back with me. The best part of introducing them to music from my youth is the videos! I grew up in the Much Music Video days when the video made the song! My daughter loves watching music videos on Youtube and really the best ones for her to watch are some of the older videos. Things were a little more innocent a couple of decades ago. I don’t have to worry so much about her seeing things that are just a little too old for 4 year-old eyes. Some of her favourites are Debbie Gibson, Tiffany, and who else but Michael Jackson. And watching them with her brings back some great memories!
We love a good game night in this family but have you ever walked down the board game aisle in a toy store? There are tons of games to choose from and it’s super overwhelming. For this reason I tend to gravitate towards the games that I know and have always loved. Connect Four and Uno are in regular rotation at this house. The kids received a Spirograph for Christmas a couple of years ago and we had blast creating the coolest designs together. I remember spending hours with my Spirograph as a kid and it was so much fun teaching my own kids how to use it. I think next on our list is Twister! Did you love skiing as a kid but gave it up? Maybe you enjoyed rollerskating or bike riding but life got in the way? Try it out with your kids again, they might love it just as much as you did.
It can be so easy to forget how to have fun. You grow up, gain responsibilities and somewhere lose your fun having skills. Kids can help you find them again, if you allow them. Reliving some of your fondest childhood memories is such a great way to have some silly fun with your kids. This is how traditions begin. Who knows maybe one day I’ll be having a Billie Jean dance off with my grandkids?
Image Source: WikiCommons
Boobies and bums, boobies and bums, boobies and bums. Those words fly around my house so often that I don’t even flinch when I hear them anymore. My house is home to a 6.5 year-old boy, so boobies and bums are the funny words du jour amongst him and his little friends - ones that elicit giggles, snickers, and whispers.
Ontario has released a new sex education curriculum that has parents divided. When it comes to parents concerns and fears of the program, I understand fully, however, I definitely want my children to take part in the new curriculum and I am so glad it has been implemented.
My kids are exposed to so much more sexuality than I ever was at their age. It is a part of their life on a daily basis even if I feel they are too young. I want my son to hear the facts, not tales from his fellow 6 year-old buddies. I want my daughter to learn what's real instead of forming her own opinions in her young little mind based on how she sees women portrayed on television or movies. It shocks me a little that parents are up in arms over teaching their kids about their bodies but it's become perfectly normal to see pop princesses writhing around half-naked in music videos or shooting whipped cream out of their cone bras in a candy filled dreamland. I would think that would be a far more confusing image for my 4 year-old daughter than learning that she has a vagina and not a hoo ha.
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My kids should be comfortable using correct terminology for body parts and I fully admit that I have been guilty of using incorrect names. The more they hear the terminology the more comfortable they will be and eventually the word penis or the word vagina will no longer start a cacophony of giggles. Could this possibly help protect them just a little? Maybe if they are perfectly comfortable talking about their body parts and what they do, if someone tries to touch them inappropriately it won't be as difficult for them to come talk to me about it.
We already have conversations about consent in our family and I am happy that the school will just be reinforcing what we already talk about at home. Consent is about so much more than just sex. It's about learning to respect other people's boundaries and if they learn how to respect those boundaries now then that hopefully that will translate when they become sexually active. When Ms. J is giving me too many kisses and I ask her to stop but she continues, we talk about why she needs to respect that I don’t want to be kissed right now. When we are wrestling and Ms. J gets hurt and needs a break but Mr. T. is very excited and isn’t ready to stop playing, we all take a moment and talk about why we have to give her space even though we aren't ready to stop playing.
Learning that our family isn’t the only type of family out there isn't a bad thing. They will come across families that are single parent homes, families where one parent is black and the other is white, and families where there are two mummies or two daddies- this is just reality, not something that I feel that they need to be sheltered from.
Gone are the days when someone steals their Dad's Playboy and brings it to school. Now kids are able to view disturbing unrealistic images of sexual acts right on their smartphones. Instead of being pressured to look at the centrefold in a dirty magazine, kids are being pressured to send naked pictures of themselves. Sexting is happening, people! It's a real issue that kids - yes, kids - are facing. Remember being 15? Remember how you thought you had it all figured out and nothing could break you? Teenagers still feel that way and they should learn about the things that could break them BEFORE it happens. I don’t want my kids to make a life changing mistake because they aren’t fully aware of the dangers involved, because I am too uncomfortable to talk to them about it. This is a part of their world now. It’s something they need to learn about.
Do I think that learning about sex is going to make them more inclined to go out there and do it? Not at all. In fact I think it's the opposite. We are giving them the knowledge to make the right decisions. The world is spinning so fast and I don’t want them to face it unarmed and unprepared.
Ok I’m going to be honest here. What I want is to have an open dialogue with my children about anything and everything. I want them to know they can come to me with whatever is on their minds.
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The thing is, that doesn’t come natural to me. I'm not great at these uncomfortable talks with anyone let alone my kids. I am working on that but I could use some help. This is where the sex ed curriculum can help me as a parent.
If sex is being talked about on the playground and in the hallways of the school then why shouldn't we make it a part of the classroom? Sex ed itself isn't new but like it or not things have changed. The old method of starting at 12 and teaching about periods and where babies come from just isn't cutting it. Is it perfect no? Is it better than it was? Damn right! Maybe parent classes should be added to the program. Bring us in and teach us how to talk to our kids about these things.
I'm looking at this as a joint effort. They will get some education at school and they will get some education at home. If they feel uncomfortable talking to me about it then I am happy to know they will learn something more than just urban legend and what they see on some XXX site. My hope is that what my kids learn from us here at home plus what they learn in sex education at school will be enough to arm them. It will be enough to combat some of the disturbing and confusing sexual messages they receive on a daily basis. I hope it gives them a comfort level to come home and talk to me or their dad when they feel confused or have questions.
It seems as though they are starting slowly. A gradual introduction and if done correctly, it can be the beginning of a strong and healthy relationship our kids have with own their bodies and what those bodies can do.