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Employee Blocks Teen From Riding Ferris Wheel Because of Her Disability - So Her Stunned Friends Take Action
Friends Stunned When Teen With Down Syndrome Is Blocked From Riding Ferris Wheel
Uplifting News

Employee Blocks Teen From Riding Ferris Wheel Because of Her Disability - So Her Stunned Friends Take Action

This 18-year-old and her family are speaking out against discrimination.

*Featured image contains photo by Tim Gouw

Unfortunately, people with Down Syndrome have been stereotyped and discriminated against for years. And while the condition is completely different than it was even 20 years ago, a lack of education and ongoing prejudice mean it’s important to continue speaking out and sharing stories.

This is exactly what one teen wanted to do after she experienced unexpected discrimination during a school trip.

A Fun Outing Takes an Unexpected Turn

girl with Down Syndrome wearing a black tshirt

Kathryn Embry was with her class on a trip to Scheels in Overland Park, Kansas having a great time with her friends. The day took an unexpected turn, however, when the 18-year-old was denied entry to the sporting goods store’s Ferris wheel because she had a “disability.”

Not only was Embry upset, but her friends and soccer teammates Emily Kramer and Morgan McGruder were angry too.

“It made me really upset because I know that Kathryn is an amazing girl,” McGruder told Fox4. Kramer added the school couldn’t do anything, which made them even angrier.

“Just because someone might look different than someone else, you shouldn’t assume their capabilities. Kathryn can do anything we can do,” McGruder added.

Frustrated, the girls teamed up with Embry and recorded a video about the incident to share on social media and help spread the word that this kind of discrimination isn’t okay.

“I tried to go on the Ferris wheel with my buddy, but they said I can’t because I have disabilities,” Kathryn said in the video.

Setting the Record Straight

After hearing about the incident, Embry’s mom called the store. The manager explained that while he wasn’t aware of the specific incident, the store has a policy that everyone riding the Ferris wheel needs to be able to follow the rules. The class that day was half made up of kids with special learning needs and half of the peers who work with them.

“They said everybody with disabilities in the group, you need to have a person who’s an adult chaperone,” Karen said. Her issue, however, was that no one asked her daughter if she understood the rules. She did, perfectly.

“The thing is, Kathryn has Down Syndrome, so you can look at her and see that she has a disability,” Karen said. “But it says nothing about what her capabilities are. She can read the rules. She can follow the rules.”

“I’ve been on the Scheels trip before. They’ve let other students with disabilities ride with peer tutors,” Kramer explained. “They told her she couldn’t even ride with a peer, with another student, which is just outrageous.”

Raising Awareness

Ultimately, Embry isn’t out to hurt anybody or to start a call to action against the store. What she hopes to gain by sharing her story is awareness: she wants to educate others so that these types of incidents stop happening.

She and her mom would also appreciate a policy change and perhaps an apology.

“We’re not here about a boycott [or to] shut down a business that’s been very generous in our community,” Kathryn’s family told the publication. “We’re about educating — not just the community at large, but business," she continued.

"Even if it’s unintentional, it’s still illegal, and it’s still wrong because it perpetuates stereotypes and it hurts a population, especially who are hitting this young adult stage.”

Standing Up for What’s Right

This story is a great reminder to all of us that we don’t know what we don’t know, but it is on us to educate ourselves and to put ourselves in someone else’s shoes in order to eliminate stereotypes and prejudices.

We can only be an ally if we take the time to learn and understand those around us who may be different, after all.

More importantly, the kindness of Embry’s friends and the way they were so quick to defend her is heartwarming and inspiring.

When we see an injustice, it’s important to speak up and be there for others rather than burying our heads in the sand.

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