WESTWOOD, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — A Girl Scout holiday outing turned to misery for one New Jersey family. They say an ice skating rink discriminated against a young girl with cerebral palsy.
Ketari Sullivan of Midland Park is living with cerebral palsy.
“She tries hard every day. It’s a struggle for her to get up every day and start to walk,” mother Colleen Orso said of her 13-year-old.
CBS2’s Reena Roy saw them working together in the kitchen Sunday, but it seemed that even the simplest of tasks were difficult.
But their experience Wednesday in Westwood at the Fritz Dietl Ice Skating Rink was especially hard. Ketari struggled to skate, while her fellow Girl Scouts enjoyed their outing.
“I have a lot of trouble standing up, never mind on ice,” Ketari said. “It was really, really hard for me not to fall.”
The eighth grader and her mother said she has a custom walker she usually uses for help.
“It’s very, very safe and flat and she can go on the snow or the ice with it,” Orso said.
They told CBS2’s Roy they had no problems with it at other rinks, but this particular time it wasn’t allowed by the owner, apparently for safety reasons. What’s more, the owner made the decision over the phone.
“The owner said absolutely not, it’s a foreign object,” Orso said. “She was making a determination it was unsafe without even seeing it.”
“I felt like I wasn’t really good enough,” Ketari added.
A list of rules at the rink says only food and drink are prohibited on the ice. CBS2 called the owner, but she had no comment.
“We never had a problem at any other ice skating rink, because they follow the (Americans with Disabilities Act) law and make accommodations,” Orso said.
The ADA, which was established in 1990, states anyone with any kind of mobility device is allowed into all public areas unless it’s a safety hazard, which is determined by specific criteria. If it qualifies, the business must provide some kind of accommodation.
The family now wants to raise awareness for those living with disabilities, hoping this will be a learning lesson to prevent others from going through the same thing.
“I hope there’s no one who gets stopped by anything like this,” Ketari said.
It was a temporary bump in the road that certainly won’t be stopping the determined teenager from living life as independently as possible.