YMCA under fire for ‘bias’

Holiday blow: Kathryn Wheeler at home with Jay. Picture: Michael CoppA CRAIGIEBURN mother says she felt “discriminated against” when the YMCA insisted her son undergo a risk assessment because of a medical condition.
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Kathryn Wheeler enrolled nine-year-old Jay, who has attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), into the YMCA Craigieburn holiday program last week.

Ms Wheeler toured the centre with her son on Tuesday but was told 24 hours later that she might need to pay an extra $30 a day for an aide to care for Jay during the two-week program, which begins next week.

“They wanted to see if he’s suitable and see if he needs an aide. The medication he’s on helps him and changes his behaviour; he’s not naughty,” she said.

Ms Wheeler said the YMCA should have been “up front” and told her when she enrolled Jay that a risk assessment was needed.

Ms Wheeler said: “I told them he had been to Scouts and been on camps for seven days without me. They didn’t want to hear about any of that. They’ve assumed he’s a problem because of the ADHD.

“I did feel discriminated against and that’s not right in these days.”

YMCA early-learning manager Jackie Juster said there had been a misunderstanding.

“We would never refuse a child with additional needs entry to a school holiday program and we’re really sorry if that was her impression,” she said.

“The family is still welcome to enrol if they would like to.”

Ms Wheeler has since enrolled her son in a different holiday program, one in which he did not require an aide.