The mother of a wheelchair-bound boy has said her son “felt like he ruined everyone’s day” after the family was evicted from an Ice World rink due to his condition.
Sam Ruddell, age seven, was born with a degenerative neuromuscular disease and was diagnosed with spinal muscular atrophy when he was 20 months old.
Sam is a very active kid and was looking forward to hitting the ice with his mom Gillie, dad Justin, brothers Liam, 9, Ben, 3 and their family friends.
“When our friend Katy Ann invited us to go ice skating, my first reaction was to contact the venue,” Ms Ruddell told Daily Mail Australia.
Sam Ruddell (front) is pictured competing in a race, with his mum Gillie chasing him
“But she had already checked for us, which was unbelievable that they even thought they would.
Ice World has two centers in Brisbane, at Acacia Ridge and Boondall. They first called Acacia Ridge and said no, but told them about an inclusion session that is on Friday.
“Then they called Boondall and spoke to someone who said yes, it’s fine, wheelchairs can get on the ice,” she said.
They originally planned to go on a Saturday afternoon, but as they were told it was a very busy time, they decided to go on Sunday morning instead.
But when they got to the counter, the attendant said wheelchairs were not allowed on the ice.
When the family explained that they had been told that wheelchairs were allowed the day before, the man Katy Ann had spoken to came out.
“He just spoke to her. It was very clear that Sam was part of our family and at no point did he apologize to myself or my husband or even to Sam,” Ms Ruddell said.
“Poor Sam was just devastated. It was heartbreaking to watch. It was just awful.
“They offered two free family passes, but gave them to our friends, not us. But at least they were useless to us because we can’t use them.’
Ms Ruddell found that the inclusion session is on Fridays at 11am, “but Sam goes to school and my husband and I work, and on school holidays the inclusive sessions are off at 11am,” she said.
Ice World in Boondall (pictured) would not allow a boy in a wheelchair to get on the ice despite previously saying he would be allowed
“Inclusion is not about allowing participation, it is about allowing participation with everyone else.”
After being rejected, Ms. Ruddell received an email from the Boondall rink saying they were investigating what had happened but wheelchairs were not allowed.
“Then I got a call from Ice Skating Queensland (which owns the rink) who contradicted that comment saying it’s not their policy to exclude people and that they would investigate but I haven’t heard anything since,” he said. they.
‘It’s all a bit contradictory. I’ve called the Boondall rink twice since then and got two different answers as to whether we can bring a wheelchair onto the ice or not.
Sam Ruddell (left) is pictured in a tree with his mother, Gillie, and his older brother Liam, 9
Sam Ruddell (picture in the middle) has never let his great love for sports hinder his handicap
“I think there are some things going on in the background, but we haven’t updated.”
Another reason Sam was so disappointed is that he’s a bit of a daredevil.
“We live at the bottom of a hill and he goes up and plays with the boys up the hill and rides his skateboard down,” his mother said.
“He’s going to lie on it because he can’t stand on it. It’s like tobogganing (the ice sport).
“I didn’t know he did that until I went out one afternoon to call him home and he came buzzing down the hill and I was like, oh my god, I can’t watch.”
Sam has also done rock climbing and enjoys going out into the surf with his dad and playing wheelchair rugby.
Sam, pictured here wearing boxing gloves, enjoys swimming with his dad, running with his mom and playing wheelchair rugby
His mom is an avid runner, so he joins her and does the kids events.
With all that activity, Sam wasn’t worried about the danger of standing on an ice rink.
Sam is in a regular class with a regular school.
‘People with disabilities are not weak, they are not vulnerable and they are often underestimated,’ says Ms Ruddell.
“The school is great, it’s really onboard with opportunities for Sam to participate.”
In a statement to Daily Mail Australia, Ice Skating Queensland (ISQ) said it “has been in contact with the mother of the child in question and we will continue to communicate with the parents.
“We recognize that the outcome was unacceptable to the family and caused them distress and we apologize.”
ISQ said it’called in a specialist consultancy in the disability area to conduct an up-to-date risk assessment on the use of wheelchairs on the ice during public sessions.
“If the risk assessment shows that it is safe for both wheelchair users and general skaters, we will remove the current restriction on the use of wheelchairs on the ice during public sessions.”