Miles Ambridge, 7, uses a wheelchair due to spinal muscular atrophy. That fact apparently kept him separated from classmates during the annual class photo, which caused a great deal of anguish for his parents and sparked outrage in the community.
"I couldn't comprehend how the photographer could look through the lens and think that this was good composition. This just boggled the mind," Miles' mother, Anne Belanger, told the Toronto Star. "Being picked on and set aside is horrendous and this was what was happening."
In the class photo, which appears to be taken in a gym, Miles is a great distance away from his 22 classmates. He appears to be straining his neck in order to be closer to the group but has a huge smile on his face. The photo, however, deeply hurt his parents, who felt that more of an effort should have been made to include the boy.
Miles' father, Don Ambridge, wrote to the school and asked to have Lifetouch Photography, the ones responsible for the photo, to reshoot it with Miles much closer. The school, and Lifetouch, obliged and took Miles out of his wheelchair for the shot so that he could be with the rest of his classmates.
"For me, discrimination is a willful exclusion of somebody," Ambridge said, according to CBC News. "I don't believe that's a case here. I think what it is, is just a circumstantial lack of awareness that resulted in a really emotionally tragic output."
He does not harbor any anger towards the school or Lifetouch, and added that his son did not seem to be bothered by the photo shoot.
"I just want folks to know the school reacted very quickly and compassionately," Ambridge told Yahoo.
"He (Miles) doesn't carry that perception of any wrongdoing or malice. He's just trying to be part of the picture and he's having a great time doing it. I think that's part of the pain for me… It's just so innocent where you start thinking, 'How dare you?'" Ambridge added, according to the CBC.
However, Miles' mother is still furious and hurt by the lack of sensitivity shown to her son.
"Kids can be cruel but this comes from adults, which is even worse. Adults should know better," Belanger told The Province.