A heartbreaking photo of a second grader with spinal muscular atrophy who was forced to “sit out” his class photo went viral over the weekend, sparking accusations of discrimination directed toward the school photography company Lifetouch Canada Inc.
“I couldn’t comprehend how the photographer could look through the lens and think that this was good composition,” Miles Ambridge’s mom Anne Belanger told the Toronto Star. “This just boggled the mind.”
The New Westminster, British Columbia, native said she refused to show her 7-year-old the photo — “Look at the angle that he was in. He wants to be part of the gang so much,” she told The Province — but did post it on Lifetouch’s Facebook page to bring the injustice to the company’s attention.
“This was not a malicious act,” Belanger acknowledged. “I don’t think it was done on purpose. I just don’t think there was any rational thinking behind it.”
“For some reason it makes me feel even worse that he’s so happy in the picture,” said Miles dad, Don Ambridge. “I think it’s because he’s still innocent…He’s still naive to how other people can treat him.”
Following significant “coaxing,” Lifetouch finally agreed that the photo was a “mistake,” and arranged to have the photo re-shot, this time with Miles sitting on a bench beside his classmates with a caregiver providing him with support off-camera.
Despite the rectification, Herbert Spencer Elementary School said it would no longer be employing the company’s services following a number of complaints concerning the photographers’ lack of concern.
“We had several comments from teachers who said they just didn’t feel that they had taken the time,” said school principal Tracy Fulton.
Lifetouch has yet to issue a public statement concerning the incident.
[family photo via The Province]