Heartbroken family snubs offer to bring Zack to park

Heartbroken family snubs offer to bring Zack to park

12 July 2017

A DISTRAUGHT family has declined an invitation to return to a children’s entertainment complex after their disabled son was barred from a play session.

Seven year-old Zack Gordon, from Killyleagh, was ordered off a trampoline as he played with friends during a summer scheme outing to We Are Vertigo in south Belfast.

Zack was born with fibular hemimelia, a condition which prevents the lower legs or feet from properly developing. 

At 14 months, he underwent double amputation surgery and started to walk with two prosthetic feet.

Concerned that his prosthetic feet might cause injury, staff asked Zack to watch the session from the sideline.

Devastated to be singled out, he returned home to tell his dad, Patrick, what had happened.

Patrick, who was looking after his newborn son Theo while mum Janet remained in hospital, was 

devastated his child had been excluded because of his disability.

He said Zack went to his room and would not come out as he was convinced he had done something wrong to be taken off the trampoline.

Patrick said Zack has never let his disability get in his way.

“It broke me when Zack had the operation as a baby, but he never let it hold him back,” he said.

“He is non stop, I get tired watching him.

“That is why he was so confused about what happened at We Are Vertigo, it was the fact he was treated differently.

“We do not want this to happen to anybody else. That is why we are talking publicly about this.”

A We Are Vertigo spokesman has apologised to Zack for his disappointment about not being able to use the trampolines, but defended the company’s decision, which she said was based on health and safety concerns.

She said it was the first time they had encountered such a situation and said insurers had confirmed they are unable to facilitate customers with prosthetics on trampolines, who may face a greater risk of injury to themselves due to the physical pressures involved.

“With advance notice, and knowledge of his particular circumstances, we would have had time to assess any risks to Zack’s safety and make the necessary arrangements to ensure that he was able to enjoy his time at We Are Vertigo,” she said.

“Unfortunately, we didn’t have any notice and in a busy session we did not have time to do this, and our staff had concerns that Zack may have been at risk of injury.

“We regret that on this occasion we weren’t given the opportunity to make arrangements so that Zack could enjoy his summer scheme outing.

“Safety has to take priority in this situation, but had we been made aware in advance of Zack’s attendance, we’d have done everything possible to ensure he had access to some of our other facilities.

“We Are Vertigo values the safety of customers above all else, and it is not our company’s ethos to exclude anyone.”

The spokeswoman also invited Zack to return to the facility with friends to use the climbing wall.

However, Patrick said he had declined the offer on Zack’s behalf.

“He will not be back there again,” he said.

“I was given various reasons for him being removed. “The company’s website should mention any limitations in their terms and conditions of use.”