A Calgary mom’s concerns over her oldest child have gone viral.
Karyn Slater, a mom of four active little boys, posted a letter to her blog to say she was upset the way a little league organization responded to her about signing up her son who has Down syndrome.
Slater wanted to sign two of her sons up for T-ball this spring. She wanted the brothers to play on the same team but instead of getting them on the roster, an alternate program was suggested to her by league officials.
Rather than responding to her email reading “sign him up,” the league directed her to a program they felt could better accommodate his needs.
“They didn’t flat out say ‘no’ but said, ‘We have had challenges with kiddos with disabilities and so we would recommend this other program to you,’” Slater said.
Karyn and her husband Curtis have made all kinds of efforts to enrol their son into mainstream sports and a typical school and want him to be as included as possible.
“They didn’t give Jake a chance without meeting him,” Curtis said. “It was a blanket statement suggesting the other program was a better fit and it didn’t seem right.”
Karyn felt protective.
“You love your kids and I am a mama bear for all of them.
” You go through anger, hurt and grieving.” she added. “I came out of that with more of a resolve to be an advocate for change in the midst of that.”
“There has been a reaction and it struck a nerve in the disability community,” Curtis said. “This is a common experience, they’re often approaching organizations where it’s easier to say no or suggest another program and for us, that’s not OK.”
The Centennial Little league president, Chris Bentley, said they never refused Jake into the program and insisted it was more of what they would consider a “suggestion” about enrolling him somewhere else.
“I have regrets there’s a kid out there not playing ball,” Bentley said. “But do I have a regret suggesting she try Challenger first? Absolutely not.
“It’s designed for kids with emotional, cognitive and physical challenges and she took the suggestion the wrong way.”
Bentley added they’ve had lots of kids with different abilities in the past play for their teams and are happy to have Jake play. The Slaters say for this season, they’ve scheduled their son for soccer instead.