Wheel Chair-bound Miles Ambridge’s School Photo Incident Teaches a Valuable Lesson
A 7-year-old boy, Miles Ambridge, shocked his parents when he brought home his 2nd grade class photo this year. Luckily, Miles had not actually seen the photo himself. The Herbert Spencer Elementary School class photo shows a small, disabled boy in a wheelchair isolated from his fellow classmates. As they all smiled big, Miles Ambridge craned his little neck to be more included in the photo.
Miles Ambridge sat all alone about three feet away from the rest of the class seated on the bench. At the age of 13 months, Miles was diagnosed with spinal muscular atrophy. It's a condition that affects his overall mobility, but cognitively, he is like any other child. He will never walk and will always be in a wheelchair. The wheelchair is part of who Miles is.
Like many mothers, Anne Belanger, was heartbroken when she saw her son segregated from the rest of the class. She saw her little boy being singled out and his disabilities highlighted for everyone to see. Not knowing what else to do, Anne, contacted the Lifetouch photography studio to voice her concerns about her son’s placement in the photo. It looked as though he had been left out or pushed out, either way, it looked like he wasn’t part of the group. At first, the studio didn’t see an issue but eventually agreed to reshoot the photo.
Miles’ parents don’t blame their son’s teacher for the insensitive photo. They don’t believe the discrimination was done on purpose or out of malice. They do, however, believe that there needs to be more awareness.
Mr. Ambridge blames the photographer but doesn’t believe he did it intentionally. He believes that the photographer was in a time crunch and just didn’t take a moment to think before he acted. Unfortunately, it only takes a moment to make a lasting impression… and it did, on Miles’ parents.
Children learn to discriminate from watching the adults in their lives. Some times we discriminate against people without even realizing it, by not taking the time to consider the other person first. I don’t think Miles Ambridge felt discriminated against by his classmates or the photographer. He probably didn't even notice the separation or take it personally.
I agree with Miles’ parents that the separation of Miles and his classmates wasn’t done to intentionally hurt or chastise the child. The photographer just simply may not have taken the time or extra consideration to shift the children 3 foot in the other direction (closer to Miles Ambridge). It could all be very innocent but what we all need to keep in mind is that these little oversights are what grow into a gap that separate people from one another. These small instances of discrimination are how the unspeakable becomes tolerable.
What do you think could have been done differently to make this gross oversight into a teachable moment?
Photo taken by Lifetouch and via parents submission