CHICAGO (CBS) — A child was recently told to leave the Crown Fountain at Millennium Park, all because of a disability.
As CBS 2’s Steven Graves reported Thursday night, we found out it should never have happened.
Jordan Block, 10, and his family love an escape to Chicago from west suburban Warrenville. They especially love dipping into the shallow water at the Crown Fountain.
“There’s not much else I can do, and that is something I can do – so it’s fun for me,” Jordan said.
Jordan went this week after a doctor’s appointment for his spinal muscular atrophy, which has left him confined to a wheelchair. It was poised to be quite the treat for him on a hot day – until he was told to leave.
“Surprised,” Jordan said. “Yeah, I said, like, I’ve been here before and have been able to do it.”
But a security guard explained to Jordan’s mom that he was a liability, on the grounds that his wheelchair could cause him to hurt himself or others.
“He’s had his chair since he was 2 years old,” said Jordan’s mother, Megan Block, “and (the guard) said, ‘Well, if another kid runs into Jordan, that could create problems for us.'”
But Ms. Block said it really created a different problem – one she wanted Jordan understand.
“I was like, ‘This is unacceptable! You know, you’re able to do this, and it’s perfect for you, and we’re being told, ‘No!'” Ms. Block said.
“I felt excluded from doing it,” added Jordan.
Jordan went in anyway. He was not hurt. No one else was either.
The website for Millennium Park says the fountain is designed without edges for people in wheelchairs to enjoy. Meanwhile, a disability lawyer says the liability excuse should never come up at a public park.
“People still have very outdated perceptions,” said Ken Walden of Access Living. “We have to accept that people with disabilities or without – they might get hurt, but there’s no suggestion here that he’s likely to get hurt more than anyone else that’s wanting to have a good time.”
Jordan, one of those kids just wanting to have fun, now has a message himself.
“I don’t want it to happen to anyone else,” he said. “I want it to be fair for everyone.”
As for the guard with Titan Security who was involved in the incident, the city says it has talked with him and called this an isolated incident.
This is the full statement from Millennium Park:
“We were very sorry to hear about Jordan’s experience at Millennium Park and we have been in touch with the family to apologize. Millennium Park was designed to be universally accessible, and Access is one of our department’s core values. Working closely with the Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities, we are committed to ensuring that everyone in our city has equal access to arts and culture – including Crown Fountain. We believe this was an isolated incident. We have addressed the issue with the specific security officer and with the entire security team.”