A disabled boy whose class photo sparked
international outrage is back in the big picture, front and center, the Times Colonist reports.
When Miles Ambridge’s class at Herbert Spencer
Elementary in Westminster, B.C. first posed for its annual snapshot, it
looked a lot different from this one. The photographer positioned 7-year-old Miles (front right), who uses a wheelchair, several
feet away from his classmates. The image of the second-grader happily beaming
despite the shabby treatment—and leaning in just to be a little closer to his
pals—got picked up by major media and elicited sympathy around the world.
Miles suffers from a genetic disease called
spinal muscular atrophy, which causes muscles to lose their strength. First
diagnosed as a baby, he has never been able to walk, but his cognitive
abilities are unaffected.
Though his family received an apology for the
insensitive photo from Lifetouch Canada, whose photographer took the shot, mere
words weren’t enough for them. Miles’s parents also wanted a photo retake—and, as you can see, they got it.
His mother, Anne Belanger, said that the
outpouring of public support moved her to tears this week. But now, at
the sight of her son’s new school photo, she’s finally smiling again. In the
picture, Miles is sitting with his classmates on a bench instead of in his
red wheelchair. While some critics argue that removing him from the wheelchair
sends the wrong message, Miles’s father Don, whose idea it was, disagrees. He
says his son isn’t wheelchair-bound and often sits on his couch or bed at home.
Miles is unaware his original photo made
headlines—but his parents are aware of what the uproar accomplished.
They told the press there’s an upside to it all, if people remember to be more
inclusive of those with special needs. “That’s all anybody ever wanted,”