By NICOLE PELLETIERE
Averie Mitchell, was told she was not allowed to ride down a water slide because of her prosthetic.
After a heartbroken Averie Mitchell was denied a trip down their water slide while wearing her prosthetic leg, one Oklahoma amusement park is vying to change their company policy.
“After talking to the general manager they have not completed their new policy yet, but no one will have to take off their prosthetic, as long as they cover the metal,” Kimberly Mitchell of Hugo, Oklahoma told ABC News. “We were still upset at the fact of how it was handled, but we decided that the awareness needed to be out there.
“These kids, and vets, and anybody with a prosthetic leg can do anything a person with two good legs can do.”
Mitchell said although her daughter Averie, 8, has been living with a prosthetic most of her life, it never lets it slow her down.
“She was born with a condition called pseudarthrosis of the tibia,” Mitchell said. “At age two, we opted for amputation, so that she could grow up with a prosthetic. It’s below the knee, so she still has her knee joint. She rock climbs, plays football, fishes, rides four-wheelers, gymnastics, circus camp — you name it, she’s tried it.”
Mitchell said it was July 18 when she and her husband John decided to take Averie to Frontier City amusement park in Oklahoma City, where she rode several rides before visiting the water slides.
“We had been there before and she wanted to enjoy the water park,” she said. “We went up the stairs to the tall slide and the attendant stepped in front and said ‘You can’t go down.'”
Assuming the park was performing routine maintenance, Mitchell said she made her way back down the slide with Averie.
Until, she said, she witnessed another child sliding down the slide.
“I said ‘Why can he go down and she can’t?,'” Mitchell said. “When I talked to the lead attendant she said, ‘Those [prosthetics] and casts may scratch our slide.’
“My first response was anger and I was very upset, but Averie thought she had done something wrong,” she added. “She was crying, so I knew at that point that I needed to keep my calm, take care of her, then get the situation figured out.”
Mitchell said Frontier City’s manager told her and her husband that Averie’s prosthetics posed a safety issue, as they could scratch their slides, causing danger for other park-goers who slid down after her.
“They gave us the option that she could take her leg off and go back, which we didn’t agree with at all,” Mitchell added. “Then we just left the park.”
When the Mitchell’s expressed their disappointment with the manager, he offered the family a refund for their admission to the park.
The following day, Mitchell said, she received the full $107 dollars for all three tickets.
Shortly after, the park sent her a preliminary change to their ride policy, as Mitchell said they had promised.
“Frontier City is amending and clarifying company policy regarding guests wearing prosthetic devices and their access to water slides,” the park said in a statement. “Guest safety is the priority in every situation, and the company follows ride manufacturer’s suggestions and guidelines. A young guest was recently denied access to a slide at Frontier City’s Wild West Water Works.
“The attendant on duty feared her prosthetic device could pose a safety concern on the slide. Her family raised appropriate objections and Frontier City began a review of policies regarding prosthetics on the slides.”
Frontier City added that any guests with prosthetics may ride under the following conditions:
- The rider must be able to safely enter and exit the slides without assistance. 2. The rider must be able to assume the prescribed riding position. 3. Prosthetic devices must not have any exposed metal in order to be permitted on the slides.
“Frontier City will be implementing this new policy effective immediately and will be updating all safety signs and website to reflect these changes,” they said. “We regret our previous policy was not clearly posted on park signage and have apologized to this family for the inconvenience and heartache this has caused them.”
Mitchell said that given the design of Averie’s prosthetics, she believes they wouldn’t have scratched the slides.
She added that she hopes the incident puts a halt to the discrimination of people who wear prosthetics.