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Updated: Fri, 21 Feb 2014 19:25:08 GMT | By CBC News, cbc.ca

Extreme Air Park disparages mother of autistic boy



Kelly Moonie says she took her eight-year-old son Kyle, who has autism, to Extreme Air Park in Langley, B.C., because he loves jumping on trampolines. CBC

Kelly Moonie says she took her eight-year-old son Kyle, who has autism, to Extreme Air Park in Langley, B.C., because he loves jumping on trampolines. CBC

The mother of an autistic child is livid with a Langley, B.C., theme park after she received a crude email in response to a complaint she made about the park's admission policies.

Kelly Moonie took her eight-year-old son Kyle and his caregiver to Extreme Air Park — which features interlocking wall-to-wall trampolines — on B.C.'s Family Day long weekend.

Upon arrival, Moonie was disappointed to learn she had to pay admission for the caregiver, who was there to assist Kyle and ensure his safety. Caregivers are often offered free entry by businesses, including theme parks, that cater to children. Moonie later wrote an email to Extreme Air Park explaining why she felt it should do the same.

The response she received was polite, but made it clear the park would not be making any changes to its policy. She says she was told everyone who goes on the floor has to pay so the park can keep track of them.

So Moonie wrote another email expressing her disappointment.

"Although I appreciate [your] reply, I find your answer null and void considering I was there on a long weekend when the place was crammed and no one there was keeping track of how many people were packed in there," said Moonie in her email.

This time, she says, the response she received was "a slap in the face."

"Our system is computerized. I am not lying to you. We know how many people are on the floor at any given time. But what would you know. C U next Tuesday," replied Extreme Air Park.

Moonie most was offended by the veiled, partly spelled-out profanity at the end. 

"It was probably one of the worst words any female, or anyone for that matter, could be called," said Moonie.

It takes a community

Moonie said she has never had a problem with companies admitting a caregiver, and that businesses often prefer it because caregivers provide extra safety assurances.

"It's not just for the safety of my child. It's for the safety of the other children too," said Moonie.

Lynne Pearson, executive director of the Langley Child Development Centre, said most organizations in the community accommodate families with and caregivers of children with special needs.

"Part of making a community accessible means embracing and allowing caregivers to participate with minimal or low cost fees so that kids can be included," she said.

Pearson said she is "appalled" by what happened to the Moonies.

"What this proprietor has done is really short-sighted. Basically not playing nicely in the sandbox," said Pearson.

"I think it takes all our community leaders, I think it takes both our public and private sector operators of services to understand the needs of families, understand that they're not looking for a handout, and understand that families do come in packages."

Policy primarily for insurance

In an email to CBC News, the owner of Extreme Air Park in Langley apologized for the offensive comments and reiterated the company's commitment to customer service.

"Extreme Air Park is committed to serving all British Columbians, including those with disabilities. We are consistently reviewing our policies for improvement, this matter included," wrote Michael Marti.

He said the policy is in place primarily as an insurance mandate, and secondly to track capacity.

Marti also said the company has looked for the chain of emails with Moonie, but has found no record of the correspondence in its system. He said several of the park's employees have access to the company email account, and promised to investigate.

Meanwhile, Moonie said she hopes Extreme Air Park and other companies ensure their policies accommodate people with special needs. 

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