Parents claim humiliation for disabled daughter at Gold Reef City

Posted Wednesday, July 14, 2010 12:17 PM | Contributed by Jeff

Eight-year-old Jordyn Hanekom, her friend and many other people visiting Gold Reef City were on the Jozi Express two weeks ago, waiting for it to start, when the operator said Jordyn had to get off because she had only one hand. The parents said the incident, the lack of signs at the theme park spelling out who is allowed on the rides and who is not, coupled with the way the matter was handled, had since made their daughter self-conscious.

Read more from The Star.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010 12:21 PM

In case she had to be evacuated in an emergency? She has an underdeveloped right arm, it's not like she can't walk.

Sometimes people can go on a power trip and take policies a little too literally.

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Wednesday, July 14, 2010 1:06 PM

It's a crap coaster anyway :)

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Wednesday, July 14, 2010 1:37 PM

My guess is that her humiliation for having only one hand is not new...but I'm cerainly not trying to make her the bad guy here. There may be a valid reason why she couldn't ride. I've been on coasters where I felt like both of my hands were playing important roles.

That said, the park better review its procedures in a hurry. I know at some parks you can go to Park Ops offices and get a detailed list of attractions you can and cannot ride based on the type of physical disability.

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Wednesday, July 14, 2010 11:54 PM

Wahoo, I never post, and I mean NEVER, but you have struck a nerve.

My daughter is missing a hand, and I can tell you the last thing she feels is humiliation.

We also stress time and time again that she can do anything, it might just be harder. She swims, water skis, snow skis, and can tie her shoes. The only restrictions for her riding ANY ride at ANY park we've been to is if she has her prosthetic arm, and that's a concern of it coming off and striking another rider.

The park is flat out wrong in this case.

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Thursday, July 15, 2010 12:47 AM

Uh, no. You absolutely cannot state that the park is "flat out wrong" with the information we have at this time.

As Wahoo said, there may be a valid reason why she could not ride. Case in point, take a look at Cedar Point's Rider Safety Guide (it's online here). Scroll to page 7 and read criteria #5: "Ability to hold on with two functioning arms."

There may not actually be a coaster at Cedar Point that requires two functioning arms, but itis definitely a criteria used to determine whether a ride can accomodate a guest. And it is possible that Gold Reef City has that policy in place for the ride in question.

-Nate

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Thursday, July 15, 2010 7:12 AM

Given the limited info in the article, I have to side with the park on this. If the ride manufacturer dictated rules about needing functioning limbs in order to participate, the park has to uphold that. It doesn't sound like anyone with the park made a scene about it or intentionally tried to embarrass her. If they had, than it would be a totally different story.

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Thursday, July 15, 2010 8:39 AM

I find the wording to be key in the CP guide, it mentions arms and not hands. I can understand that a functioning shoulder and upper arm might be required to properly restrain the body with a shoulder harness.
I'd love to get Dave's take on this.

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Thursday, July 15, 2010 9:20 AM

It mentions arms, not hands, BUT it mentions specifically being able to hold on.

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Thursday, July 15, 2010 12:05 PM

Whether or not it's safe isn't the issue, as far as I'm concerned. If it was obvious that she didn't have a hand, as the parents suggest, why did she even get that far along?

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Thursday, July 15, 2010 12:11 PM

I agree with park policies on this matter, but there is a chance that the incident was not handled the best way.

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Thursday, July 15, 2010 12:38 PM

Trust me, you don't need a hand to hold on. I wonder what the park would have done with a prosthetic. If it's on the she can hold with two hands, but then there's a risk of it coming off, and my daughters is VERY heavy.

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Thursday, July 15, 2010 2:28 PM

How do you know that a rider doesn't need a hand to (safely) hold on? Do you work for the ride's manufacturer?

The Cedar Point guide may not specify "two hands," but that's Cedar Point policy, not Gold Reef City's. My linking to the Rider Safety Guide was merely to demonstrate that such limitations do exist.

Unless there's something I missed in the article, it sounds like she waited in line, boarded the train, and then was told she couldn't ride. That doesn't sound any different than the many, many times I've seen ride ops pull shorter kids out of the train for a height check. If there's no attendant at the gate, it's the way things are done. Perhaps it's true there is no sign at the entrance advising guests that people with certain conditions may not be allowed to ride safely. If that's the case, shame on the park, and they should remedy that immediately. But outside of such a sign, I'm not sure what else the park could be expected to do.

-Nate

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Thursday, July 15, 2010 7:54 PM

Just for background, I went and read the Gold Reef disability policy, and it's quite interesting. Nobody with any physical or mental handicap can ride any thrill rides, but they also don't pay. There's a little tidbit I find missing from this story. And the reasoning given for why the disabled can't ride is poor, but that's my opinion.

As for the how do I know about holding on, it's first hand experience with my daughter. I've never seen anyone before her be able to hold a water ski rope like she does. Her arm without the hand is quite strong, and she's learned how to use it in unique ways.

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Saturday, July 17, 2010 2:49 AM

Looks like the park handled this the wrong way, especially since the girl was at the same park weeks before and apparently had no problems getting on any rides.

That being said, I do have a problem with the mother and her "worst day of our lives" tirade. Come on really? OK, the girl was told to get off the ride just before it began. and that's rough. What if there were a clearly defined policy that kept here from riding? Wouldn't she have felt just as badly if she were told she couldn't ride before getting in line? Wouldn't she still wish she had 2 arms? Sounds to me like the mother's rant more than the park's policy is making the girl self-conscious. The girl probably feels badly about ruining her parents' day and thinks she's to blame.

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Saturday, July 17, 2010 2:23 PM

I think you grossly underestimate the impact your child crying can have on you.

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Monday, July 19, 2010 3:10 PM

But how or why would it be different if the child were crying because she were turned away at the entrance, as opposed to just before the ride began? The girl would still "be different."

What is the appropriate reaction to a crying child? Tellling them OK, they can have anything they want? Blaming other people and demanding that they give the child whatever she wants? Running to the media to report that someone made your child cry?

I already said the situation sucks, and the park didn't seem to help with their apparent inconsistent way of dealing with the situation. It made it worse allowing her to ride during one visit and denying her the next time. But I still think the mother's reaction is playing a large part in making the girl feel self-conscious.

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